OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s been a hot Oklahoma summer and experts say the heat is making an impact on people’s behavior. They say the high temperatures can lead to heated arguments and even violence.
This summer, Oklahoma has seen some high temperatures, several excessive heat, warnings, and days with temperatures in the triple digits in Oklahoma. Experts say heat and mental health goes hand-in-hand and can make a person’s behavior change for the worse and can cause increased aggression and violence.
“We absolutely see an increase in demand for our services in the summer. You know, the heat can cause people to behave in really terrible ways. And so, we see a spike in both our domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocacy services,” said Angela Beatty, Chief Programs Officer at YWCA Oklahoma City.
Angela Beatty with YWCA in Oklahoma City said recent OSBI reports reveal crime spikes during the summer, and they see less domestic abuse cases during the winter.
“One of the things that we were able to identify that a lot of those crimes against people so rape, sexual assault, forcible oral sodomy, domestic violence, aggravated assault, that a lot of those crimes increased during those summer months when it’s hotter outside,” said Beatty.
Information from the American Psychiatric Association reveals extreme heat increases irritability in people which will in turn cause more aggression and violence in a person experiencing extreme heat.
“Heat makes us more irritable. It makes it harder for us to think clearly and make good decisions… Certainly violence has been shown to increase during extremes of heat,” said Joshua Morganstein, MD, Chair, Committee on the Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster, American Psychiatric Association.
Joshua Morganstein with the American Psychiatric Association said it can have the same effect on teens who are playing sports this summer.
“I think one of the challenges for teens is, you know, being aware of their own body and self-care. Teens brains aren’t as developed,” said Morganstein.
So, making sure your teen players are constantly taking breaks in cool areas and making sure they’re drinking lots of water is essential for their mental health.
“So, parents, educators, coaches and other people who serve as mentors and guides in their lives can play an important role in just reminding them, getting them into those habits, of doing that, doing self-care. Any time they’re in situations where their body may be exposed to things that are extreme,” said Morganstein.
Research from the American Psychiatric Association also shows high temperatures are linked to problems with memory, attention, reaction time, sleep difficulties and more.
Exposure to extreme heat can worsen psychiatric symptoms like these.
There are resources for victims who are experiencing domestic abuse in Oklahoma.
Go to www.thehotline.org to get information on domestic violence or to get help. The website includes both “chat” and “texting” options. You can call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate assistance.