Emotions

Researchers to investigate whether heat could help treat depression

Taking a hot bath could pave the way for future anxiety and depression treatments researchers say as they launch a brand new study.

A team from the Lakehead University in Canada want to further investigate whether a long, hot soak in the tub might have a significant impact on mental health conditions.

This comes off the back of several smaller trials carried out in the past which have suggested that heat could be used as potential treatments.

Previous findings have shown that when people with depression have a high temperate due to illness, their mood improves.

Another study with positive findings involved placing heated coils around the person with  severe depression, which increased their body temperature to 38.3c. The researchers reported that 60 per cent of participants responded well to the treatment, and 40 per cent met the criteria for remission from their depression after a single session.

At the moment treatments for depression involve medication and counselling, so should heat be found to help, this could revolutionise future therapies for the condition.

The most recent study that is being carried out will involve 150 people who all have diagnosed depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Half of them will be asked to put their legs in hot water for at least half-an-hour three times a week for a couple of months. The remaining individuals will carry out the same procedure but in cooler water.

Although the link between heat and depression is not fully understood, some experts believe high temperatures might play an important role in reducing inflammation

Professor Carmine Pariante, from the biological psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “We know reducing inflammation is a successful antidepressant strategy in patients who have high inflammation and do not respond to antidepressants.

“Thus, it would be great if we could find more natural ways of decreasing inflammation through heat, without anti-inflammatory medications.”

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