As Northern Australia enters the monsoonal build-up months, a stretch of excessive heat and weather tension, Northern Australians brace for a period known locally as mango madness.
The debilitating disorder has nothing to do with fruit, however. It’s an illness that affects civilians living at the top end of Australia, typically those who labour in the sun, and it affects a person’s mood, appetite, sleep, and energy.
The disorder, which is often thought of as a myth, is believed to be responsible for higher crime rates and higher rates of depression atin the top end.
Those who work in the sun, without access to air conditioning during these months are most likely to be at risk. The “she’ll be right” attitude, that is synonymous with Australian workers, causes many to suffer through symptoms without seeking treatment. Mary Morris, a senior lecturer in psychology from Charles Darwin Uuniversity, explained to ABC, that those who are most at risk are roofers.
“I know they start early and knock off early but the head load on that roof with protective clothing is phenomenal,” she told ABC.
“"We have this gorgeous laissez faire attitude in the tropics … .”
"We accept the fact people are more aggressive and there are more fights and more alcohol use.”
According to Morris’s research, violent crime, including sexual assault and homicide, increases during the lead- up to the wet season, generally between the months of November and December.
The effect of heat stress on the body is largely unknown. However, dehydrating your body and working under high heat every day, not only affects muscles and general physicality, but the research suggests it may also affect hormones, glands, and insulin, according to Morris.
“You can't keep messing around with your body like that and not have consequences,” she said.. “I don't think our bodies were designed to do that."
Since protective clothing often makes the issue worse, different steps may need to be taken to protect workers from mango madness.
The symptoms of the illness read like those of an alcohol hangover: fatigue, nausea, irritability, and dehydration. A heat hangover, however, amplifies these symptoms and can stretch on for days, leading to prolonged irritability and fatigue.
Addressing the illness first begins with acknowledging the seriousness of prolonged exposure to extreme heat;. Aussies need to be able to recognize the symptoms and need to seek help. Iinstead of enlisting the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude adopted by many workers, they should .utilize any available professional help, wear sunscreen, find shade, and avoid long exposure in the Australian heat.
Otherwise, she won’t be right.
Lead Image: Australia, NASA