Are you finding your mood’s improved recently? Is the summer sun lifting your spirits? That’s the good news. More daylight hours mixed with plenty of blue skies and lush green growth is healthy for mind, body and soul.
However, dangers may lurk if you are taking psychiatric medications.
You probably already know that many medications have interactions with other medications, alcohol, and certain foods (such as grapefruit) but there are a few negative interactions that have a heightened chance of occurring in the summer.
Can’t Cool Down
Antidepressants and other psychiatric medications can cause a decrease in sweating. Sweat actually cools the body, so if you’re not sweating you’re not cooling down. Also, they can interfere with the body’s heat regulation abilities. So if you’re taking prescribed tricyclic antidepressants, be careful to watch for overheating signs such as elevated body temperature, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and feeling weak. Neuroleptics and other medications can also cause heat regulation to be effected. Be careful to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Some medications are effected negatively if you become dehydrated. For example, lithium levels may go up if you become dehydrated, causing lithium toxicity. When lithium levels become too high, there can be serious damage to the kidneys. Lithium toxicity can even be lethal. The symptoms of lithium toxicity are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tremor, muscle weakness, drowsiness and confusion.
Psychiatric meds can also cause sun sensitivity. You might sunburn more easily or even get a toxic reaction such as a painful rash when exposed to the sun. Speak to your prescribing MD or pharmacist about whether or not it’s safe to be in the sun with sunscreen. The answer might be no.
Heat can render many medications ineffective. Be sure to store your medications in a cool place. You can also ask the pharmacist or manufacturer if you can refrigerate your medication.
During the summer there are often more outdoor parties (beach, BBQ, etc.) But daytime isn’t the only time when psychiatric medications and summer don’t mix. At night you have a higher likelihood of being offered alcoholic drinks which will negatively impact virtually all medications taken for mental illness. The results can be serious–from meds that just don’t work to increased and dangerous effects of the medication causing serious symptoms.
Remember: Stay cool, stay out of the sun, stay hydrated. And keep your psychiatric medication away from heat and out of direct sunlight.