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Unlocking Hope: Heat Therapy’s Potential in Depression Management

© Arran Kenny

Recent research from the University of California reveals a promising avenue for alleviating depression: heat therapy.

The study, involving 20,000 participants across 106 countries, found a correlation between depression and elevated body temperatures.

This suggests that utilizing heat therapy may be more efficacious in managing depression compared to cold exposure.

Participants in the study wore devices measuring their body temperatures while self-reporting depression symptoms over seven months.

The findings indicate that subjecting the body to heat stress could assist in regulating core temperature for extended periods, thereby potentially reducing depression symptoms.

Contrast therapy, which involves alternating between hot and cold conditions, has shown benefits for overall health.

Cold exposure can enhance glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which can uplift mood and energy levels.

Jane Witt, the UK’s inaugural Thermalist instructor at Saltwater Sauna on Sandbanks beach in Poole Dorset, underscores the significance of these findings.

Jane Witt
Jane Witt © Bill Measom

“This research is ground-breaking in a number of ways. The study shows that when people recover from their depression regardless of how they got better — their temperature tends to regularise (ref).

Ironically, by putting the body under heat stress, the body modulates its core temperature better and stays lower for longer than through an ice bath”.

“The results I see through my work continue to amaze me. The potential of natural Nordic contrast therapy is limitless”.

“In this country we are just catching on to what the Scandinavians have known for years.”

Depression affects approximately 5% of the global population, a figure that has surged amid the Covid pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

As research sheds light on innovative approaches like heat therapy, there is renewed hope for those grappling with this pervasive mental health condition.