Some Medications Increase Your Risk of Overheating

During a heatwave, it’s important to be aware of your risk

Summer fun

It’s finally summer again, and after two and a half years of varying Covid-related restrictions and changes, many of us are eager to get out there and enjoy it.

I know I am. I have a two-part 12 week camping trip planned for this summer (part one was out West, you can read about it here).

The weather has been intense this year, with many strong thunderstorms and tornado warnings. We had a major thunderstorm, complete with hail, on the second day of our trip.

In fact, just last night, there was a funnel cloud right over the community centre in the nearby town, only five minutes from our home. Luckily it didn’t touch down, but it’s one of many that have been spotted around the province already this year.

While there are significant benefits to getting outdoors, there are also some risks. Many are not aware that medications you take may make you more sensitive to the heat, and can even increase your risk for heat-related illnesses.

There are quite a few, but I’m going to talk about two here: anti-depressants and stimulant medications. I also include tips for keeping yourself and your children safe during this heat wave.


Two of the most commonly known types of psychiatric medications that can lead to overheating in hot weather are tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotics.

These kinds of medications impact the area of the brain responsible for temperature regulation (among many other important functions), the hypothalamus.

Antidepressants which can decrease your heat tolerance are SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclics.

Tricyclics are most associated with heat sensitivity. Some common ones prescribed in Canada are:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Imipramine
  • Maprotiline
  • Nortriptyline

Many antidepressants increase your likelihood of excessive sweating, known as hyperhydrosis.

Image created by author

Personally, I am taking venlafaxine (Effexor) for ADHD and anxiety, and I find this SNRI makes me sweat more than I normally do. Apparently this medication can also increase photosensitivity, which increases our risk of severe sun burns — yay.

I definitely feel like I have a higher body temperature, but I’m not sure if that’s the Effexor or Vyvanse (my ADHD medication) — probably both.


All stimulant medications can increase our overall body temperature, as well as interfere with the efficacy with which the hypothalamus regulates our body temperature.

Some common stimulant medications prescribed in Canada are:

  • Adderall
  • Vyvanse
  • Dexedrine
  • Biphentin
  • Concerta
  • Foquest
  • Ritalin

Stay safe

Due to the current heatwave, some people who are taking antidepressants, stimulants, or some other medications will notice not only more sweating than usual, but also being more sensitive to the extreme temperatures.

This can then lead to dehydration, heat stroke, heat rash, and other issues relating to the body overheating.

It’s important to exercise caution and care during these extreme temperatures.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take time out of the sun.
  • Avoid overexertion.
  • Wear a hat & sunscreen.

If you don’t have A/C, visit your local library, cooling shelter, or trusted friends and family who do. Alternatively, hit the beach and spend lots of time in the water. Regardless, remember to drink lots, and take breaks in the shade.

Image created by author

One last important point I want to add:

Neurodivergent folks tend to struggle more than others with interoception — that is, how well we perceive, receive, and process the messages our body sends us — including recognizing thirst and noticing when we are getting too hot.

This isn’t exclusive to people taking antidepressants or stimulant medications. Autistics, those of us with ADHD, and other neurodivergent people who struggle with interoception are at increased risk due to missing the earlier signs of overheating.

Image created by author

Warning signs of overheating:

  • Irritability and fatigue.
  • Headache or dizziness.
  • Feeling cold on a very hot day.
  • Hot, red, or clammy skin.
  • Nausea and upset stomach.
  • Muscle cramps.

If you’re going to be out in the heat:

  • Pack yourself a special juice or drink you enjoy to encourage fluid intake.
  • Drink lots of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or watch to ensure you drink fluids (and to remember to re-apply sunscreen).
  • Try to find a shady spot so you have some relief from the sun.
  • Pack light and enjoyable snacks to ensure you eat: watermelon and other fruits are a good way to maintain electrolytes and hydration.
Image created by author

Tips for camping

Try to book a site that is well-shaded

Depending on your campground reservation service, you may be able to search for sites that are well shaded or near a lake or beach. Parks Manitoba and Parks Canada both indicate whether a site is well-shaded, partly-shaded, or open.

Sites near large bodies of water also tend to be cooler and have a breeze.

Bring your own shade

If you are car-camping, you can bring a kitchen tent in order to create some shade on your site. You can also bring a tarp to hang on your site to create shade. Both options also help if it rains.

Note: *If you hang a tarp, be sure to set it up on an angle, so it doesn’t allow water to pool inside, otherwise you’ll have a large wading pool right above your heads!

If all else fails, go for ice cream! If you’re camping during a heatwave and are having trouble finding relief, it never hurts to head to a nearby town, visit an air-conditioned ice cream shop, and enjoy a cold treat.

Most major campgrounds have a small town nearby which caters specifically to campers and beachgoers throughout the summer, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to have your business.

Have fun!

© Jillian Enright, Neurodiversity MB

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Related Articles

ADHD, Actually: The Struggle is Real.

Clumsy, or Neurodivergent?

ADHD Medication Trials


Cheshire, W. P., & Fealey, R. D. (2008). Drug-induced hyperhidrosis and hypohidrosis: incidence, prevention and management. Drug safety, 31(2), 109–126.

Rege, S. (2022). Neurobiology of Attention Deficit Disorder — A Primer. PsychScene Hub.

Stewman, C. G., Liebman, C., Fink, L., & Sandella, B. (2018). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Unique Considerations in Athletes. Sports Health, 10(1), 40–46.

Published by Neurodiversity MB

Jillian has Child and Youth Work diploma as well as a BA in Psychology. Jillian worked on the front lines of Social Services agencies from 2003 - 2012. Jillian has taken numerous continuing education courses and has attended various workshops focused on supporting neurodiverse children, in particular children with ADHD.

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