The worst thing about depression could be isolation. Ironically, it may the thing that caused it. Very often you would find well-meaning friends, partners tell you to ‘have a cup of tea’ or just ‘get out in the open.’ If only depression were so easy to treat!
But according to the latest scientific study, your friends and family may be on to something. A simple thing like taking a long bath actually does have a major impact on one’s mental health, apparently.
A research group from the University of Freiburg in Germany conducted a small test with a sample group of people who were suffering from depression and split them into two groups. Group one was asked to take a hot bath in the afternoon at 40 degrees for up to 30 minutes at a time, and the second group was asked to undertake 40 to 35 mins of aerobic exercise twice a week.
Eight weeks later, participants mindset were measured using a typical depression scale. The group that had the daily hot baths were found to have scored six points lower (indicating lesser levels of depression) than prior to the experiment, while the group that had been doing regular exercise only scored an average of three points lower. The findings indicated you could hypothesize that regular hot baths were more effective than exercise when it came to improving the symptoms of depression.
Scientifically speaking, warm baths have such an impact because it has something to with the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is essentially a 24-hour internal clock that tells us when to sleep and impacts the behaviour and biochemistry of our bodies using temperature.
Depressed people tend to have a flatter circadian rhythm (which is why insomnia can often be a symptom of depression), but by increasing the core body temperature of a person with depression, in theory, this could help to strengthen their circadian rhythm and improve depression symptoms.
That being said, with the study being conducted on a small sample, it may not be the most reliable source. But a warm, fuzzy bath sounds relaxing and therapeutic, nonetheless.