Do Extreme Temperatures Affect Your Mood?

With climate change affecting many aspects of the world — including temperature — it's no surprise that the extreme heat in almost every country is making people cranky. In July 2022, over 70 million Americans were put under a heat warning or advisory, according to The New York Times. Several cities across the United States broke daily heat records, including Boston and New York City, according to USA Today

Many people enjoy summer, but these high temperatures can make even the most patient people boil over with anger. It's known that extreme heat can affect our health and well-being. Some symptoms that come with extreme heat include an increased risk of dehydration, extreme sweating, and even heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Both of these conditions can be deadly, according to the World Health Organization (via WHO). All of these can have an effect on one's mood, and experts say that this is completely normal.

Chemicals are released in high temperatures

The temperature in the body is a delicate balance. If our temperature goes too low — generally defined as below 98 degrees Fahrenheit — it can cause hypothermia, according to Verywell Health. However, temperatures that are too high — above 99 degrees Fahrenheit — can also have dangerous consequences. When your temperature is raised, your body has various ways to cool you down, including sweating and vasodilation (your blood vessels widen, bringing blood to your skin), according to Healthline.

However, your body also releases adrenaline as you become hotter, as well as other chemicals that trigger the "fight or flight" response, according to Self. These chemicals can make you feel like a threat is approaching, becoming more emotional and impulsive to deal with the threat.

Notably, this isn't speculation, either. Research has shown that as temperatures increase, judgment and overall mental health decreases. For every 1-degree Celsius rise in temperature, mental-health-related deaths increase by 2.2%, according to a study in the journal Environment International. Also, people being admitted to a hospital for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions also increase as temperatures rise.