Look at how many people you know who are suffering from depression.
I bet you know quite a few. The surprising fact is that almost one in ten of us (8.1%) were going through a depressive episode in a given two-week period in the years 2013–2016.
The other startling statistic is that younger people 18–25 age group are more prone. The average age overall is around 32.5 years old. The percentage of women is likely to be twice as high as men although I doubt the statistics here as many men hide their depression. It comes across as being weak.
It is also startling that when men do suffer from depression, they are four times more likely to commit suicide than women!
So, what about cold showers?
As regards treatment, anti-depressants are one solution and many people do get better. There is a lot of concern about how effective these medications are and also on their side effects. One alarming fact is that since 2006, prescriptions for these drugs has doubled.
But what about a good old-fashioned method such as having a cold shower? If you are in Australia right now, this may well appeal to you but if you live in North America, it might be less tempting.
This is water therapy or hydrotherapy if you want the official term. As I hope to show you, this sort of therapy can be very beneficial at many levels and also for our mental wellbeing.
The cold shock
Remember when you have a swim and you get wet for the first time? Unless you are in a heated swimming pool or very warm sea, then the shock to your system is quite high.
The blood vessels on the surface of your skin tighten up and the blood moves to the core of your body to preserve it from this “threat” and make sure heat is preserved for your vital organs. This movement of blood acts as a sort of cleansing agent and your brain and heart get a nice supply of fresh blood. This shock is what some experts call thermal stress.
The great news is that this shock activates beta-endorphin and noradrenaline. These are also the same hormones that anti-depressants release. These are the ones that lift our mood!
So, here we may have a treatment that is completely natural, with no side effects and does not cost anything.
One study here reveals that there are multiple health benefits and that our bodies love cold water.
You and I might not think so as we are cosseted by warm showers and cozy environments.
When winter swimmers were asked, they all reported that they all felt in a better mood and were much less stressed out. They also have higher energy levels.
We do not even have to go to the coast or nearest pool. Just step into the shower and turn on the cold tap.
Research on how cold water may help with depression.
According to one researcher, Dr. N. Shevchuk, the shock of the cold water is similar in some ways to that of an electrical shock. These electrical impulses can benefit patients with depression.
One woman who was suffering from post-partum depression decided to try a period of cold water swimming. The British Medical Journal reports that over a period, her mood improved and depression lifted which meant she was able to give up anti-depressants. A year later, she was still off medication.
Another group of cold water swimmers found that their levels of uric acid was reduced , thus lessening the risk of getting gout or having kidney problems.
Another study showed that cold water levels can help reduce stress levels.
Read the BBC news report here of Sarah who was desperate to try to get off anti-depressant meds as she had been on them since she was 17. She said they put her in a “chemical fog”. She tried the cold water therapy, and she is still, happily off all medication.
“Life is good. I still have counseling but the swimming is something I’ll never turn my back on. It helped me so much in a time of need.”- Sarah
More research needs to be done to show that this treatment may well be a valid alternative to anti-depressants.
Why not try a cold shower?
No need to go to the freezing sea or cold swimming pool. Just go and have a shower. You can start with a nice warm temperature and then gradually cool down to 68°F. Try that for two or three minutes.
You will feel a lot better. According to all the cold water and winter swimmers, they never get colds and they can even turn their heating down in the winter!
Health warning: Do not stop taking anti-depressants without discussing it first with your doctor.
Enjoy the video here to learn about all the health benefits for men and women!