Can a hot bath in the afternoon reduce depression?

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Much has been written about the fantastic benefits of hydrotherapy for people with mental health issues. We wrote a blog not long ago about the great results from those suffering from anxiety and depression were getting from taking cold showers in the morning. (Take a look at the post by clicking here: Cold Showers - Can They Help Anxiety & Depression?)

And now it seems that the research into hydrotherapy has thrown up another interesting result – that a warm bath just twice weekly in the afternoon can reduce depression.

A small study by the University of Freiburg in Germany took 45 people suffering from depression and gave half of them twice weekly exercise sessions. The other half were given twice weekly “thermal therapy” sessions which consisted of them soaking in a pool of water at 40°C for up to 30 minutes, then getting out and wrapping up with blankets and hot water bottles for another 20 minutes.

Related article: How Gut Bacteria Affects Depression

After eight weeks the study showed that the hot-bath treatment reduced depression symptoms by six points (from 21 points) as opposed to exercise which reduced it by just three points.

The reason seems to stem from the fact that raising our body temperature in the afternoon helps to restore the normal circadian rhythm of temperature. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle. These are very often out of whack with people who suffer mental health issues and insomnia. Research has found that most people’s body temperature peaks in the afternoon, but people suffering from depression peak much later in the day which then throws off the natural circadian rhythm. Getting the body’s circadian rhythm back on track by raising the temperature in the afternoon also comes with the bonus that sleep patterns are improved and, as we all know, getting good sleep is a massive help when you are suffering from depression.

Related article: How Improving Your Diet Can Help Your Mental Health

Whatever hydrotherapy route you take, it does seem that our body’s temperature and our circadian rhythms are an extremely important factor in the way our minds are able to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. If you’re suffering from depression perhaps you could experiment by taking a cold shower in the morning and a warm bath in the afternoon - or mixing it up a bit on different days if you want to save water!

But be assured, we’ll keep you posted with any new research we find about the benefits of cold and hot water therapy on mental health, anxiety and depression. And for more advice on how to keep your mental health in check, why not take our FREE 10-week mental wellbeing course with free audios, meditations, sourced videos, helpful advice and tip sheets right here:

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