Our generation has a better understanding of depression, and experts have identified dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin as the neurochemicals that give us a sense of contentment, optimism, and the ability to experience happiness. Infrared saunas have been shown to optimize the production and reception of these natural antidepressants. The infrared light produced by an infrared sauna may penetrate several inches below the surface of the skin. This warming effect encourages the production of serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. During periods of depression, individuals will often experience nervous tension and persistent agitation, making it difficult to experience a relaxed, zen-like state truly. Infrared saunas stimulate endorphin and oxytocin release. These are the chemicals we most often associate with peace and contentment.
Hundreds of research findings confirm the many physical health benefits provided by regular sauna bathing. From helping people with bronchitis and asthma breath easier by acting as a lung decongestant, to reducing hypertension and symptoms of heart disease, sauna bathing is quickly becoming an effective and popular way to treat a wide variety of health issues.
New and exciting research regarding psychological sauna health benefits indicates that heat can improve mental health, relieve depression and exert calming effects on people with mild to moderate anxiety. Scientists think that stimulating the skin and underlying tissues with heat activates serotonin-releasing cells in the brain. A neurotransmitter regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and motivation, serotonin is also vital to enhancing feelings of well-being and happiness.
People diagnosed with depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and panic disorder have significantly lower than normal levels of serotonin. This is why doctors routinely prescribe antidepressants for increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Check out our range of Portable Sauna Melbourne to help with your problem.
Thankfully, several studies suggest that regular sauna use can help with mental health symptoms related to:
- Appetite Loss
- Anxiety and Stress
Studies Highlight Mental Health Benefits of Saunas
Depression and Related Symptoms
At the Kagoshima University Hospital in Japan, researchers compared patients with appetite loss, fatigue and depression to a control group after each group underwent far infrared sauna treatment sessions. They reported far infrared sauna treatment patients enjoyed a statistically significant improvement in their symptoms. Patients also found it easier to relax after several sauna sessions. This study suggests that regular thermal therapy using far infrared saunas could be helpful for treating mildly depressed individuals with appetite loss and other subjective symptoms.
Anxiety, Stress Relief, and Mood Enhancement
Results of a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice involved 45 men and women (average age 51 years) visiting a sauna just one time. Researchers had subjects complete two questionnaires asking about their anxiety and mood states following their sauna session. Six mood-related factors—confusion, fatigue, vigour, anxiety, dejection, depression, hostility and anger—were measured and found to improve significantly after sauna bathing.
Lowers Risk of Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease
A longitudinal Finnish study published in Age and Aging examined sauna health benefits for potentially reducing the risk of dementia and memory diseases in men between the ages of 42 and 60. Follow-ups on subjects found that men having two to three sauna sessions each week experienced dramatically fewer symptoms of dementia than men who only had one sauna session per week. Also Portable Sauna Melbourne page which has everything Portable Sauna related that you might need
Cuts You Off from the World
People dealing with depression and anxiety, with tolerance for excess heat, are prescribed regular sauna sessions. It is found that daily sauna sessions leads to relaxation and has a positive effect on mental health, by allowing you to escape the uncertainties and complexities of the outer world, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
Lowers Levels of Cortisol
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Many studies have revealed that daily sauna sessions lower the levels of cortisol in the body. As a result, stress and anxiety are reduced. Moreover, excessive sweating during the session also reduces the feeling of frustration and increases relaxation.
Helps Release Beta-Endorphins to Relieve Pain
Did you know that strenuous activities cause pain that can cause emotional stress, which in turn drives the body to produce natural pain-relieving compounds? Beta-endorphins are the natural pain relievers of the body. Interestingly, heat exposure during a sauna session puts some amount of stress on the body, such that it is encouraged to the release of these endorphins, which then leads to a significant reduction in pain.
Produces More Euphoric Hormones
The reason a lot of people start suffering from depression is that they are unable to find joy in their lives. Sauna sessions can make people feel a sense of euphoria due to the release of certain hormones, as a result of the heat stress on the body. This can significantly help people suffering from depression. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling generally happy after regular sauna sessions.
Don’t go inside a sauna with expectations and judgments, which are a major cause of resentment. Instead, enter the sauna with the sole aim of relaxation, and the rest will be sorted.
Additional Mental and Mood Benefits of Saunas
Infrared sauna heat calms your body and your mind
Sitting by yourself for 20 minutes every day in a sauna facilitates achieving a meditative state by giving you the time and space to organize chaotic thoughts, ponder possible solutions to problems and de-stress your body and mind.
Infrared saunas stimulate blood flow throughout your body as the heat penetrates your soft tissues and muscles. Your brain needs a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to function properly. While sauna breathing, inhale deeply to enjoy the benefits of saunas on cognition and the brain.
Getting a good night’s sleep every night is essential to your physical and mental well-being. Research indicates that infrared sauna therapy may induce sleep-modulating effects caused by disruptions in the circadian cycle.
Here are four more benefits you can expect to get out of your newfound wellness habit
Better workout recovery. If, for you, one workout leads to two days of waddle-inducing soreness, listen up: Getting the blood flowing with sauna therapy can help reduce soreness so you can get back to the gym sooner. The body has its way to circulate waste products that are built up during exercise. By improving circulation, you’re speeding up their exit from your body.
For example, in one 2015 Springerplus study, researchers found that both traditional saunas (which heat the room with stones or a heater) and infrared saunas (which emit infrared light waves for heat) improved exercise recovery in men. Researchers suggest that infrared saunas, in particular, may penetrate the neuromuscular system to promote recovery.
After your next workout, try sitting in the sauna for a “warm down.” Just remember that when you get out of the sauna, you’ll need to hydrate even more than you usually do post-workout, he says. Consider rehydrating with a beverage such as juice or coconut water that contains electrolytes.
Stronger immune health.
Sit in a sauna, fight off disease. OK, it might not be that simple, but sauna bathing has been shown to strengthen the immune system, which, in turn, can increase your body’s defences again the cold, flu and other nasties. In fact, in one Journal of Human Kinetics, athletes who took 15-minute sauna baths experienced an immediate increase in their white blood cell count, a marker of immune strength.
Researchers explain that similar to exercise, saunas temporarily increase the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol, triggering the immune system to go on alert. It’s worth noting that this effect seems to be higher in regular exercisers than in sedentary folks, so don’t make sauna time your sole sweat session.
Lower risk of dementia.
Men who hang out in a sauna four to seven times per week have a 66 per cent lower risk of developing any form of dementia and a 65 per cent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who take a sauna once a week, suggests one 2017 Age and Ageing study that followed 2,315 adults over the course of 20 years.
These brain-boosting benefits may come down to saunas’ effects on the body’s blood vessels and circulation. After all, research consistently links blood flow to the brain with cognitive decline and the development of dementia. Just like with heart health, the frequency may trump duration. So make sauna-bathing a regular habit.
Improved mental health.
There’s nothing like sweating it out to clear your mind: “The greatest mental health benefit of a sauna is the act of just sitting still for a defined period of time. In this time, we connect with our bodies intensely and intimately. In addition, the heat of the sauna quiets the mind by bringing our awareness into the immediacy of the moment and away from the chaos of the outside world. For anyone who suffers from a mood disorder such as anxiety and depression, it’s a wonderful way to self-soothe. It changes the emotional and cognitive state in a relatively short period of time.”
In fact, according to one Alternative Medicine Review, sauna therapy can help ease mild depression and fatigue and has been linked to improved emotional balance in those with anorexia nervosa.
If you struggle with depression or anxiety, have you ever wondered why that sauna or hot bath seems to make you feel better?
Or have you ever marvelled at how many people seemed to be almost addicted to doing yoga in unbelievably hot and stuffy rooms (i.e. hot yoga)?
Our research team thinks we have discovered an answer to both these questions. And the answer is simple: Short periods of elevated body temperature (hyperthermia) can be an antidepressant.
We recently did two studies in which we placed individuals with major depression into a high-tech infrared heating device, induced hyperthermia, and then watched to see what it would do to their depressive symptoms.
In the first study of 16 individuals with major depression, a single hyperthermia treatment reduced their depression scores almost by 50% five days later.
The results of this first study were exciting. Still, the study had a significant weakness: There was no inactive comparative condition (i.e. placebo) that would allow us to know whether the positive effect was specific to the high heat or resulted more from the many non-specific mood-enhancing effects of entering a study.
To address this question, we conducted a second, larger study in which we randomly treated half the participants with active hyperthermia and the other half with a “sham” treatment that mimicked every aspect of the hyperthermia treatment except the high heat. As we describe in a recently published article, the results echoed those found in the first study – a single session of hyperthermia produced a rapid and powerful antidepressant effect. And remarkably, none of this effect was seen in depressed patients who received the sham treatment. Moreover, the benefits of a single hyperthermia treatment persisted for six weeks, something that we weren’t expecting.
Although these results are promising, much more research remains to be done before we can be confident of how best to use hyperthermia to treat depression. Larger studies need to be done to more thoroughly confirm our findings. Also, because we only studied a single treatment, we don’t know yet whether giving patients more than one treatment would produce a greater effect or make the antidepressant effect last longer. We also don’t know whether higher or lower amounts of heat would provide stronger results.
I wish I could tell you that if you are struggling with depression and are intrigued by these findings that you could go down to the nearest hyperthermia clinic to give it a try. Alas, although hyperthermia machines are widely used in Europe, they have not been approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. So, for now, hyperthermia machines are available only to researchers. For these machines to be approved in the United States, it is likely that larger studies will need to be conducted. Given this, I wouldn’t expect to see them on the U.S. market for at least several years.
In the meantime, saunas and hot yoga may offer some help with depression because they induce at least some degree of hyperthermia. But, to be clear, you should not try to increase the potential antidepressant benefits by lingering longer in the sauna or making your hot yoga even hotter. Heating the body can be dangerous, so it is important to be mindful of safety. And most importantly, consult with your doctor for specific guidelines that are right for you if you are new to saunas or hot yoga.
Tips for the Best Sauna Experience
Stretch Before Entering The Sauna
Stretching wakes up your body, gets your blood pumping, and increases your flexibility. These preparations will ensure that your mind, body, and health will see the greatest results after your infrared sauna session.
Hydrate Your Body
They say you should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, and they’re not wrong! Keeping your body hydrated guarantees that you’ll have the stamina to enjoy an entire session of healthy heat in an infrared sauna.
Find The Right Settings
Not everyone has the same body, so not everyone should have the same settings when it comes to their infrared sauna experience. If you’re looking to relax truly, then you may want to adjust the chromotherapy lighting to our cool blue, turn the heat to a lower temperature, and play some calming tunes. But, if you’re someone who wants to use the infrared sauna to feel energized, then perhaps a radiant orange, higher temperature, and an inspiring music selection is the way to go.
Take Advantage Of The Bench
Our infrared saunas come equipped with a comfortable bench that’s stationed at just the right height, so use it! The bench gives you somewhere to put your feet up to relax, sit calmly if you want to meditate, or provides an area for you to do that stretching we talked about earlier.
Infrared Saunas as a Treatment for Depression?
It’s obvious to regular sauna users that it’s a relaxing escape from the stresses of day-to-day life. Infrared sauna enthusiasts report mood elevation as well as stress relief. Researchers asked the question: could sauna use be effective for treating depression? In some cases, the answer was “yes”: Check out Portable Sauna Melbourne specialists in providing solutions to your problem.
In 2005, a study was published in Psychosomatic Medicine in which a group of 28 mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective symptoms were studied. Twenty-eight mildly depressed inpatients with general fatigue, appetite loss, and somatic and mental complaints were randomly assigned to the thermal therapy group (n = 14) or non-thermal therapy group (n = 14). Patients in the thermal therapy group were treated with 60 degrees C far-infrared dry sauna for 15 minutes and were then kept at bed rest with a blanket for 30 minutes once a day, five days a week for a total of 20 sessions in 4 weeks.
Patients given sauna treatment showed significant improvement in bodily complaints, as well as hunger and relaxation scores compared with the control group. As well, the ghrelin hormone (that’s an appetite stimulant secreted by your gastrointestinal system), as well as daily caloric intake, improved in the sauna group significantly more than in the control group.
These findings suggest that repeated thermal therapy may be useful for mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective complaints.
As with many of the benefits of infrared saunas, science proves what regular users know. Taking a sauna is a mood elevator. Better than pills!