Tens of millions of people across the United States have been enduring heat wave after heat wave this summer, in what feels like an unrelenting succession of humid days and scorching temperatures. While there’s no denying that extreme heat and humidity can be physically uncomfortable, research suggests that such conditions can be trying on your psychological well-being, too.
“We see across the whole spectrum of mental health” that heat extremes are damaging to mental well-being, said Nick Obradovich, a computational social scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and co-author of a 2018 study that analyzed the mental health risks of climate change.
Studies have found links between rising temperatures and a range of mental health issues including mental fatigue, aggression and even higher rates of suicide. This connection is not just limited to surges in temperature, Dr. Obradovich said, it’s also present for people living in climates where it is consistently hot. (Though of course mental health trends can depend on a variety of factors outside of temperature, too.)