8 Summertime Strategies for Living With Schizophrenia

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

In summertime the living might not be easy for people diagnosed with schizophrenia who are taking medications. You can beat the heat and enjoy yourself by taking a few precautions to stay healthy.

Stay cool

Antipsychotic medications can impair the body's ability to regulate its own temperature; thus during hot and humid weather, individuals taking these drugs are at risk of hyperthermia or excessive body temperature. This can be fatal.

Stay hydrated

Drink one 8-ounce glass of water every hour. It is important for you to drink water to avoid dehydration. Call your doctor right away if you become severely ill and have some or all of these symptoms of dehydration: sweating too much or not at all, dry mouth, feeling very hot, feeling thirsty, not able to produce urine.

Time activities accordingly

Engage in outdoor activities like walking, running or cycling during off-peak hours (before 10AM or after 4PM) when the sun is not as strong. Maintain proper hydration when exercising. Be careful exercising in a gym for long periods of time if it seems the air conditioner isn't cool enough for comfort.

Stay out of the heat

The body's temperature regulating center's set point is increased because of the antidopaminergic effects. The body's ability to sweat and eliminate excess heat is decreased, leading to a heat buildup internally that can cause heat stroke and a shutdown of critical bodily functions.

Use sunscreen

Prevent or reduce your risk of skin cancer by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Use sunscreen year-round. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 in the cooler months and an SPF of 30 to 50 in the summer outdoors. Use a shot glass-sized amount on your body and a teaspoonful amount on your face. Reapply every hour if you're outdoors.

Be mindful of temperature

Store your medication at the manufacturer's suggested temperature. Fanapt must be stored in a climate-controlled room kept at a temperature of 77 degrees F (25 degrees C). Clozaril must be stored at a maximum temperature of 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Keep your pill bottles in the kitchen in a drawer or basket or in a pantry, not in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom at risk of humidity.

Travel with confidence

On the plane, get up every half hour and walk to the restroom even if you don't use it. Keep your legs active to improve circulation and prevent thrombosis or other vein problems. Wear sport shoes or comfortable loafers to walk around. Nix wearing jeans and a message tee shirt. Leave valuable jewelry at home.

Eat local produce

Shop at your local Greenmarket or Farmers Market to stock up on healthful produce. While not cheap, the offerings don't contain GMOs (genetically-modified food) or pesticides so they are more nutritious than processed foods bought in a supermarket.

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.