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by Tony Gjokaj October 17, 2021 2 min read

Recently, I have been experimenting with cold showers when I am feeling down, or need an extra kick.

It has been very helpful.

For years, there hasn't been much research done on hydrotherapy... until more recently.

While hot and cold temperatures have been used for treatment, cold exposure has been shown to help with depression, providing a therapeutic effect.

In this post, we are going to explore cold exposure and its impacts on depression.

Let's dive in!

Cold Water Exposure

Research has shown that lowering temperature exposure to our brain actually has neuroprotective effects.

Our brains typically produce inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation.

Too many of these cytokines can contribute to the development of depression.

And cold exposure can lead to the reduction of inflammation.

So essentially, exposing our skin to cold water can have a positive impact on our mental health.

Cold water exposure can provide a hormetic response, where small bouts of "pain" can bring about positive adaptations.

While swimming in cold water may suck at first, some of us may find that with prolonged period of time, it may provide us some pleasure.

Our Brain, Neurotransmitters & Cold Exposure

In a research cold exposure study, researchers showed that blood dopamine concentrations increased 250% by submerging yourself in 57 degrees fahrenheit water for about an hour. In addition, norepinephrine concentrations increased by 530%.

Other studies have also shown elevations in dopamine, norepinephrine, and even serotonin concentrations. These regulate pleasure, mood, motivation, appetite, sleep, and alertness.

Essentially, cold exposure can elicit positive mental health responses.

Recommendations

While cold exposure isn't an immediate fix to depression, it can be a great tool to use in your arsenal as a way to jumpstart your day, or even as a preparation before your workout.

The following recommendations should help you with cold exposure:

  • Whenever you're feeling down and at home, have a cold shower. Keep this in your mind when you're feeling down.
  • Acclimate to cold showers. Start at a warm temperature, then slowly move to the cold side over a period of time. Then sit in the cold water for about 1-3 minutes.
  • Don't do cold showers before bed. If you're trying to sleep, this may keep you WIRED. Try a hot shower or bath instead. It will help you destress.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Before submerging yourself in cold water, take your time getting into the water. Submerging yourself to immediate frigid waters can cause hypothermia.

For more on cold exposure, I would recommend listening to the Huberman Lab Podcast episode with Dr. Craig Heller here.

What's really nice about cold exposure is that we all have access to it at home. If you want to take it to another level, I suggest having a membership to a cryotherapy place.

I plan on getting one to a local cryotherapy place I have around here!

I want to thank you all for reading this!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us or direct messaging us on Instagram.

Until next time, Mood Lifter!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.



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