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Psychiatric patients relapse due to Ho Chi Minh City heat wave

Thursday, May 12, 2016, 17:54 GMT+7

As an intense heat spell continues to cook Ho Chi Minh City, more people suffering from mental disorders have relapsed after making improvements in their conditions.

Doctors from the Ho Chi Minh City Mental Health Hospital said that about 3,600 cases are now being treated at the facility while there were 2,800 cases a week ago.

D.T.A.T., 44, whose mental health had stabilized for years after medical treatment relapsed into schizophrenia, according to her older sister.

“Recently, T. has no interest in eating and is suffering from insomnia again,” she said, adding that she took T. to the hospital when the patient told her that the voices in her head had reappeared.

After hearing what the patient’s family had to say about T.’s condition, Luu Quoc Thai, head of the Diagnosis Department and also the doctor treating T., wrote out a prescription doubling her medicine.

“The extreme weather has caused the symptoms of mental health patients to recur,” Dr. Thai said, adding that lots of patients have been transferred to the hospital as they had relapsed into depression, anxiety disorders, and psychosis due to the hot climatic conditions.

“I have had to double the medications and arrange follow-up examinations for several severe cases including those who wake up at midnight, show no interest in food, hear voices, feel irritated, or scream persistently,” the doctor said. 

Airy places, family care are essential

Dr. Thai recommended that mental health patients’ family members always be by their side to support and keep an eye on them.

“When the weather is hot, people’s bodies have to moderate their own temperature to keep them at 37 degrees Celsius. This makes people tire easily, especially those who suffer from mental illnesses, and can cause them to relapse,” he explained.

“Family members should have patients with mental health problems drink over two liters of water a day to keep their body hydrated,” Dr. Thai insisted, adding that they should stay in airy and cool areas.

“It is crucial to notice any potential symptoms signaling a relapse including eating and sleeping less, feeling anxious, and more, ” Dr. Thai noted, suggesting that patients must be hospitalized to receive immediate intervention and prevent them from acting out fatal behaviors.

“Those suffering from anxiety disorders may run onto the road without noticing traffic, while people with schizophrenia may hit and injure others, both of which carry a high risk of fatality,” he said.

Dr. Thai also warned that sharp and flammable objects should be kept out of the patients’ reach for their own safety.

The scorching climate, which has engulfed the city since March, has also caused local children to suffer from respiratory disorders and gastrointestinal problems.

The climatic event is forecast to dissipate by Thursday, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

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