Whole-Body Cryotherapy a Hot New Treatment for Depression?

Adjunctive whole-body cryotherapy may convey added benefit in patients with depressive disorders, new research suggests.

This type of therapy, which involves subjecting the body to extremely low temperatures for short periods of time, is already used in rheumatoid and neurologic conditions, as well as for biological rejuvenation in athletes.

There is also a small, but growing, body of evidence that the technique may be used in mood disorders, potentially through the modulation of inflammatory or immunologic markers.

In the current randomized study of more than 50 patients already receiving treatment for depression, those exposed to "true cryotherapy" once daily for 10 days experienced significant improvements in depression scores and in measures of motivation, mood, and sleep quality compared with those exposed to low but non-cryotherapy temperatures.

These early results "are very promising and we think [cryotherapy] is worth further exploration" as an adjuvant treatment in depression, said Julia Rymaszewska, a student in the Psychiatry Department at Wrocław Medical University, Poland.

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