As many as 10% of Americans suffers from depression at some point, with many experiencing chronic depression or depression as part of other mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder. Depression can lead to a host of other health issues and, while treatable, therapy and medication costs can add up. Hot tubs can be a great way to alleviate depression symptoms, and may even help stave off the blues altogether with regular use.
How Hot Tubs Can Help with Depression
Soaking in the hot water of a hot tub releases endorphins. Endorphins are a feel-good chemical--they cause you to feel contentment and pleasure, and reduce the effects of stress. They also contribute to deep, restful sleep. Sleep is the body's natural way of reducing stress and balances moods. Those who regularly use a hot tub can experience calmer, more even temperaments and fewer episodes of anxiety and depression.
Relaxing in a hot tub releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” chemical. This chemical helps reduce the effects of stress on the body and leads to long, deep sleep. Relaxing in a hot tub for 10 minutes approximately 90 minutes before bedtime will turn the temperature down on your internal thermostat and help you drift to sleep. With better sleep, reduced stress, and the presence of endorphins, hot tub soakers may experience calmer temperaments and fewer bouts with anxiety and depression.
The process of using a hot tub to stave off or manage depression has three components:
- Heat: Immersing yourself in heated water causes the body's core temperature to shift. This shift leads to a feeling of relaxation and can alleviate insomnia.
- Massage: Massage has long been touted for its healing benefits. The jets in a hot tub have a similar effect on the body, but instead of focusing on one part of the body at a time, the entire body is massaged at once. The massage forces the muscles to relax, and where the body leads, the mind follows: your mind will relax and stress alleviated, which elevates mood.
- Buoyancy: The buoyancy of the hot tub water relieves stress on the body, particularly the joints. The relaxation of the body, the alleviation of stress-related aches/pain, and the hydrostatic pressure increases improves circulation and respiration. Increased oxygen and blood to the brain is known to alleviate depression symptoms and regulate mood.
Hot Tubs are not a Substitute for a Doctor's Care
Hot tubs can be a great way to manage and even stave off depression, especially in cold seasons when your bones really need to be warmed up. However, chronic depression is a serious condition and requires a doctor's care. If you suffer from depression or suspect you do, consult your doctor about your symptoms.
Above all: Be well. And happy soaking!