Depression is a complex and difficult mental health condition that affects an estimated 14.8 million Americans. Treatment for depression comes in a wide array of formats including therapy, medication, or some combination of both. And now, a new study is showing that taking warm baths may be another small tool to add to your anti-depression arsenal.
According to a new study by researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany, soaking in a 104-degree tub for up to 30 minutes can be just as beneficial as exercise for diminishing the effects of depression.
To come to its conclusion, the researchers followed 45 people all diagnosed with depression for several weeks. The scientists split the groups in two, with one group taking baths and the other exercising twice a week for 40 to 45 minutes.
After two months the participants’ moods were assessed using a depression scale. According to Health, the participants who took regular baths scored an average of six points lower than they did before. The exercise group scored an average of just three points lower.
“[Baths] seem to be a fast-acting and safe method leading to clinically relevant improvement in depressive symptoms after just two weeks,” the team concluded. “Patients can apply the method at their own responsibility and it can also be practiced by patients with problems performing exercise training.”
As to why this method may work so well, Health explained that it may have to do with the body’s circadian rhythm, otherwise known as our body’s internal clock, which also affects temperature regulation. Sometimes, people living with depression can have disrupted circadian rhythms. However, by regularly increasing their body temperatures they may be able to improve their circadian rhythms and alleviate symptoms. And besides, a bath, as it turns out, burns as many calories as working out, making this a great way to feel better in mind, body, and soul.