Does cold help to beat anxiety and depression?
Anxiety is our body’s normal reaction to stress. It’s apprehension or concern about what could happen in the future. When we are anxious, we may feel as though our hearts are racing, we can’t catch our breath, or we are shaking. A variety of factors can cause anxiety. Some people may have anxiety when confronted with circumstances such as taking a school test, going on a first date, or attending a job interview. Others may have anxiety due to anything in their history (such as being bullied) or something happening in the present, such as caring for an ill elderly parent. Furthermore, for some people, no identifiable incident or setting may generate anxiety.
Many people experience anxiety as a result of worrying or experiencing terror while picturing a scenario that is significantly worse than it actually is or was in real life. Traditional anxiety treatments include talk therapies such as counseling, journaling, exercise or relaxation, and breathing techniques.
Depression, on the other hand, is significantly more intricate and yet little understood. However, because it is considered a brain condition, which has historically been regarded to be an imbalance in the brain’s chemicals, it can significantly impact the sufferer’s life. This has recently been refuted, with the notion that it is more likely the outcome of stressful conditions or experiences or that it is maybe tied to our DNA or both. Unfortunately, persons who are depressed are more prone to commit suicide than those who are anxious or have no sickness. Depression is traditionally treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
Surprisingly, one study suggests that our different lifestyles may cause modern-day sadness compared to our cave-dwelling ancestors. The researchers focused on the exposure to significant temperature swings that our forefathers used to face but that we no longer do. This is significant since our biological clocks, governed by light and temperature, have not developed significantly since we lived in caves.
While depression can be inherited, it is mainly triggered by events in the sufferer’s life and surroundings. As a result, modifying lifestyle variables such as nutrition and exercise can help with depression. The same is true for cold exposure. Hormesis is to blame for this.
Hormesis is a phrase used to explain the positive benefits of exposure to something that stresses the body. Muscle strength is an example of the influence of hormesis after exercise. Hormesis is also why modest doses of alcohol are beneficial to our health. The body responds to stress by becoming stronger and more robust. Cold exposure, according to the researchers in the above-mentioned study, helps build resistance to sadness and anxiety because the body needs to control its temperature is a sort of exercise that leads to hormesis.
There are more cold temperature receptors on the skin than there are hot temperature receptors. Receptors communicate with the brain through millions of tiny electrical impulses. When these receptors detect cold water from a shower, cold water swimming, or an ice bath, they transmit a message to the brain, triggering a chain of events in the body to recover and maintain central body temperature. This hormesis impact on the brain and central nervous system explains why chilly temperatures can alleviate sadness and anxiety.
There are a few advantages to bathing in cold water, and scientific evidence supports why cold showers may boost your mental health and improve your mood and wellness. Your body temperature decreases when you take a cold shower, which causes a physiological response. When your skin’s cold receptors detect cold, they send instructions to your blood vessels, which constrict, and to your heart, which increases the rate at which it beats to keep your body warm. This higher heart rate produces endorphins, chemicals that improve mood and promote sensations of well-being. A cold shower can also produce dopamine, which can help you feel better. Many people who go cold water swimming or take an ice bath report feeling “alive and rejuvenated” due to the release of these chemicals.
Aside from the immediate mood-boosting effects of a cold shower, there are some long-term advantages. Studies have demonstrated exposure to cold conditions frequently helps enhance your resistance. According to research, when a depressed person builds their resilience, it can strengthen their emotions of self-worth, improve their mood, and assist in alleviating their depression symptoms. If you tend to become nervous quickly, taking cold showers frequently might help educate your body to better cope with anxiety-inducing events.
The brain-derived neurotrophic factor is another molecule that contributes to the development of depression. As a result, certain antidepressant drugs target and boost this neurotransmitter. The good news is that cold exposure not only increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor synthesis but also makes brain cells more receptive to this chemical messenger, which has a protective impact on the brain. This is another way that cold exposure can improve mood, reduce depression, and improve general mental health.
People can also acquire depression while dealing with chronic pain, such as that caused by rheumatism, arthritis, or fibromyalgia. A study of persons with these disorders, as well as Parkinson’s disease, discovered that swimming in cold water in the winter decreased pain and discomfort after just four months of frequent swimming.
Four months of cold water swimming was also all that was required for a lady who had been diagnosed with depression for seven years to be able to discontinue her antidepressant prescription, which, coupled with talking therapy, was not making her feel any better. She said that each swim significantly improved her mood; a year later, she was still not on any medicine. Despite the fact that this study only included one individual, the results are very promising. They offer a foundation for future research to establish, once and for all, that cold exposure is a primary, drug-free therapy for depression.
As you can see, cold exposure can increase the hormones and chemicals in the brain that enhance mood, lessen pain, and aid in developing resilience, all of which aid in the treatment of depression. However, it is not a quick fix and should be done on a monthly basis for a few months. Cold water swimming is a terrific mood enhancer if you are a skilled swimmer, but don’t discount the advantages of cold showers or ice baths.
However, do so with regular physical activity and a mood-boosting diet to see faster improvements. Finally, it is always preferable to consult with a physician and take the appropriate procedures to protect your safety.
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