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The psychology of heat: As temperatures climb it impacts our brains

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 21:52:36-04

PHOENIX — If you notice your mood changes as temperatures soar, perhaps you can blame Mother Nature.

A Valley psychologist says soaring temperatures, which often keep many of us inside, can make us more depressed or agitated.

"I'd almost call it...our version of Seasonal Affective Disorder," said Dr. Melissa Estavillo with Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. "That's something where [people] are inside more, they're not getting exposure to the bright kind of lights."

Estavillo told ABC15 when temperatures ratchet up a few degrees, hitting 100 or 110, that can serve as a milestone that impacts mood.

"It absolutely feels like a boundary, like a line that we've crossed," she said. "The psychological impact could absolutely affect the way we respond to it."

Estavillo recommends finding creative ways to still enjoy your hobbies, even if you're limited by the heat.

"It's those creative kinds of strategies of saying what about that activity that you can't do now, can we find elements of that to be able to do inside so you're having those needs met?" Estavillo said.

ABC15 found several people enjoying Tempe Town Lake on Friday, despite the hot temperatures.

"I definitely get irritated a lot more," said Hanna Wilkerson of the heat.

Another woman said she doesn't mind the hotter weather.

"I'm always active, I always feel fully energized," said Ciara Vigil.