A recent study led by the University of California, San Francisco, has found an interesting connection between depression and body temperature.
It appears that people who are dealing with depression tend to have higher body temperatures.
This discovery opens up new questions and possibilities about how we might help individuals with depression by focusing on their body temperature.
The research, which was shared in the journal Scientific Reports, does not definitively answer whether depression causes body temperature to rise or if the higher temperature is a contributing factor to depression.
It’s also unclear why this temperature increase happens. It could be because people with depression have a harder time cooling down, or they might produce more heat due to changes in their body’s energy use, or it could be a mix of both reasons.
To get to these findings, the researchers looked at data from over 20,000 people from around the world.
These participants used a special device to keep track of their body temperature and also reported their own temperature readings and feelings of depression every day.
This study was quite extensive, lasting seven months and starting in early 2020, covering data from 106 countries.
The analysis showed a clear pattern: as the severity of depression symptoms increased, so did body temperature.
Additionally, the data hinted that people whose body temperatures didn’t vary much throughout the day might have higher levels of depression, although this particular observation wasn’t strong enough to be considered conclusive.
The lead researcher, Dr. Ashley Mason, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF and a clinical psychologist, mentioned how this study could lead to new ways of treating depression.
Surprisingly, treatments involving heat, such as hot tubs or saunas, have been found to potentially lessen depression symptoms. This could be because these treatments encourage the body to cool itself down, for example through sweating.
Dr. Mason suggests that intentionally raising body temperature might cause a longer-lasting decrease in temperature than methods aimed at cooling the body down directly, like ice baths.
This has led to curiosity about whether monitoring the body temperature of people with depression could help in timing treatments that involve heat to maximize their effectiveness.
This study is notable for being one of the largest of its kind, particularly in its examination of the relationship between body temperature and depression across a wide geographic area, using both self-reported data and measurements from wearable devices.
With depression rates on the rise in the United States and elsewhere, the researchers are hopeful that their work could pave the way for innovative treatment options that might make a real difference for those struggling with depression.
In essence, this study highlights a potential link between physical and mental health that could lead to new treatments for depression.
By understanding how body temperature and depression are connected, researchers are opening up new paths for helping individuals manage their symptoms in ways that were not previously considered.
If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.
The research findings can be found in Scientific Reports.
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