Antidepressants that become ‘incredibly dangerous’ in the heat – expert’s warning

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Antidepressants are one type of medication that can be impacted by the hot weather. And with around one in eight people in England now prescribed the drugs, being aware of these dangers is more important than ever. Speaking exclusively with, Dr Sameer Sanghvi, from Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor, explained further.

He warned how two specific antidepressants – serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – could become “incredibly dangerous” in the heat.

This is due to side effects of excessive sweating, dehydration, heat intolerance and heat stroke.

Dr Sanghvi said: “Temperature dysregulation can be a risk when taking certain types of antidepressants and antipsychotics.

“Common antidepressants can all stop the temperature regulating area of the brain functioning as it should.

“Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

“However, SNRIs are known to cause excessive sweating and thus dehydration, while SSRIs have been linked to heat intolerance and heat stroke.

“All these side effects can be incredibly dangerous because many fundamental life processes depend on the body’s core temperature remaining within a narrow range.”

Dr Sanghvi shared his tips when it comes to taking antidepressants safely in the heat.

Steps to take in the heat

“If you are taking these kinds of antidepressants, first things first, do not stop taking them” he said.

“You should always consult your doctor before making changes to your mental health medication.

“The best thing you can do is take precautions to stay cool: stick to the shade; drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol; keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm; avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day; and wear loose, breathable clothing.”

How to store medication

Dr Sanghvi added: “You also need to be mindful of where you’re storing your medications, especially in hot weather.

“Heat, air, light and moisture can all damage your medicine and stop them working as they should.

“Medications are likely to expire more quickly if not stored correctly too.

“A drawer or cabinet is an ideal place to store medicine. These tend to stay cool and dark, even in warm weather.

“That said, I’d avoid keeping your medicine in bathroom cabinets as these can become very damp thanks to steam from baths and showers.

“Unless advised otherwise, you should always keep medication in its original packaging.

“Things like the box and blister packet that tablets come in are designed to protect the medicine inside so it can do its job effectively.”

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