Need to learn more about the minds and bodies that cause depression in order to treat and prevent it more effectively.
Strangely, a few research have found a correlation between body temperature and depression symptoms, but their limited sample sizes have raised too many questions.
After examining data from 20,880 people gathered over a seven-month period, researchers led by a group from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) confirmed that those with depression typically had higher body temperatures.
Even with 106 countries represented in the study, it is insufficient to demonstrate that depression is caused by a higher body temperature or that depression causes the body to warm up.
It does, however, imply that there may be a connection here that merits more research. Millions of individuals worldwide could benefit if something as easy as maintaining composure could help combat the symptoms of depression.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest study to date to examine the association between body temperature – assessed using both self-report methods and wearable sensors – and depressive symptoms in a geographically broad sample,” says UCSF psychiatrist Ashley Mason.
The researchers speculate that there could be several causes for the association. Depression may be associated with metabolic processes that produce excess heat or with malfunctioning biological systems that aren’t able to cool down. Alternatively, there may be a single reason that affects both body temperature and depression symptoms independently, such as mental stress or inflammation.
It’s something that further research may examine. For now, understand that depression is a complicated and multifaceted illness that most likely has a wide range of causes, one of which may be body temperature.
Hot tubs and saunas have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in the past, however only in small sample sizes. It’s probable that the perspiration that results from this self-cooling mechanism is also having an impact on the mind.
“Ironically, heating people up actually can lead to rebound body temperature lowering that lasts longer than simply cooling people down directly, as through an ice bath,” Mason explains. “What if we can track the body temperature of people with depression to time heat-based treatments well?”
The results of the study demonstrated that body temperature averages increased with the severity of self-reported depression symptoms. Additionally, albeit not to a statistically significant degree, there was some correlation found between smaller daily temperature changes and greater depression scores.
It is estimated that 5 percent of people worldwide suffer from depression, so there is a pressing need to better understand and treat the condition. With every new finding, there is increased hope for solving the issue.
“Given the climbing rates of depression in the United States, we’re excited by the possibilities of a new avenue for treatment,” Mason adds.