Belgium in Brief: (Not) handling the heat

Belgium in Brief: (Not) handling the heat
Credit: Belga

Have you been feeling prickly lately? Moody, irritable? Maybe you have felt increasingly anxious, stressed, or just not good in general?

@LaurenWalkerH explains that this could be due to the heat.

While it is commonly known that extreme heat can be dangerous for people's physical health (as it can lead to heatstrokes or even an increased risk of blood clots), its effect of it on our mental health is less commonly known.

Where some people are thought to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the lack of sunlight during the shorter days of autumn and winter, hot temperatures can increase the stress hormone cortisol.

While high levels of this hormone can give people a sense of euphoria, prolonged exposure of the brain to a high concentration can result in negative side effects, such as irritability, emotional lability, and depression.

Additionally, the brain's levels of serotonin – neurotransmitters that are important for the feeling of happiness – can also be deregulated by extremely warm temperatures, making people more vulnerable to depression.

Research shows that for every 1°C increase in monthly average temperatures, mental health-related deaths increase by 2.2%. In places with temperate climates, high temperatures can trigger suicide deaths even up to one week later.

One of the study’s researchers, professor of environmental epidemiology Tim Nawrot, explained that while the heat is not necessarily the primary cause, it can be a “trigger” to make the final decision.

As another heatwave is expected to start this week and will likely last far into next week, people are strongly advised to make the necessary preparations to get through the heat.

How are you coping with the high temperatures? Let @Maatjee know.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

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