How Does Cold Therapy Work for Depression?
Jun 23, 2021 By Nancy Amon
Cold therapy is a non-invasive treatment that deeply penetrates throughout the entire body. The cold temperatures changes the way the body’s nervous system communicates with the brain, thus helping to improve your health. Cold water immersion is a powerful therapeutic tool to help treat people with depression and other mental conditions.
Depression affects a large majority of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization, more than 260 million people are affected by depression. This, along with other mental conditions, can alter our mood and the way we reason on a daily basis.
Cold therapy is a time-tested practice that has been shown to aid in the recovery of various health conditions. In recent years, cold therapy has been used to help treat depression and mood disorders. Some cold therapy treatments include cold water immersion (ice bath, cold water showers, hydrotherapy) and surface-level cryotherapy ice chambers.
One study was done on a woman diagnosed with depression since the age of 17 and was treatment-resistant (to fluoxetine). By age 24, she wanted to be drug-free following the birth of her child. She thus resorted to cold water swims, which improved her mood immediately after each swim.
Hydrotherapy is an effective method for treating depression and elevating mood. Cold showers and ice baths, for example, can create a “shock” effect on the body. This process activates electrical nerve impulses that extend from the brain to the nervous system. It has been shown to mimic similar effects as antidepressants. This is why water exposure is so prevalent in treating mood disorders and depression.
Every mental condition is different, but some people who suffer from mood disorders may exhibit some of these symptoms:
- Sudden mood changes
- Manic depression
- Pain-related to inflammation
- A feeling of being inadequate
- Guilty feelings
- No longer enjoying the activities they did before
- Periods of heightened joy and sadness
4 Reasons to Use Cold Therapy for Depression, Stress, and Mood Disorders
1 – Cold therapy can lower anxiety levels
Cold therapy is tested in many ways and has been used for millennia. It is also effective at treating anxiety and the symptoms related to this disorder. Coldwater exposure such as ice baths and cold showers can help lower anxiety and its symptoms.
Cold temperature exposure for as little as two to three minutes a day can change the way the body responds to anxiety triggers.
2 – Lowers stress levels
A high-stress lifestyle can lead to many health conditions because of the pressure that it exerts on the body. Stress can impact on a physical and mental level. While it is critical for fight-or-flight responses, chronic stress can be dangerous.
Cold water exposure can help reduce stress levels and the related symptoms because cold temperatures affect the body by lowering cortisol levels. This hormone is an important component of the fight-or-flight response, but you don’t need it lingering around during your downtime.
3 – May reduce bipolar disorders and their symptoms
Cold therapy is a non-invasive, holistic treatment option for treating bipolar affective disorder. Bipolar disorder can be extremely severe in some people and oftentimes results in manic depression and self-harm.
Bipolar drug treatment is common but not always effective. Studies show that breathing exercises and cold therapy can help treat bipolar and have even helped patients reach remission.
4 – Reduces depression symptoms
Depression can be debilitating and can disrupt thought, decision-making, and life in general. For many years, antidepressants were the answer to treating depression in patients. But, just as with bipolar disorder, medications have been shown to not always be effective. In fact, they can also have many harmful side effects.
There is a variety of studies and tests that show cold therapy helps to improve symptoms of depression. It has also been more effective than drugs to get patients into depression remission. Combining cold water therapy with holotropic breathwork or meditation is a great way to enhance the positive benefits of an ice bath.
Cold Therapy as an Effective Treatment for Headaches
Cold therapy treatment helps improve the symptoms related to mood disorders, including headaches.
Furthermore, migraines are often the result of stressful situations or anxiety. Headaches commonly accompany low mood because of how the body responds to certain elements or stimulants.
Research has found that cold therapy was used to treat migraine headaches as early as 150 years ago. Self-documented notes and manuscripts by James Arnott also show cold water therapy’s efficacy in reducing debilitating headaches.
Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of a cold plunge? Order your Ice Barrel today and experience the benefits for yourself in the comfort of your home.
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