More than 20% of Americans struggle with mood disorders, with many exploring supplementary treatment options to their medication and therapy routine.
You might consider cryotherapy if you are looking for new ways to help a mood disorder. Here’s how the practice can benefit depression, anxiety and other issues.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is short-term exposure to extreme cold — more than -100 degrees Fahrenheit — to help treat various conditions. It’s gained popularity over the years thanks to its use by athletes to quickly recover after games and health spas that use targeted cryotherapy to burn off fat cells.
Doctors use cryotherapy to treat warts, lifting them away from the skin to prevent virus spread. It’s also effective in treating migraines, eczema and inflammation.
Cryotherapy treatments have many physical benefits, but they can also improve mental health.
What Mental Health Disorders Can Cryotherapy Treat?
Cryotherapy releases endorphins that impact mood, making it a great supplemental activity for many mental health treatment plans. During a session, the participant’s body releases endorphins and adrenaline, which research shows positively affects various mood disorders.
It also has physical effects that aid in mental health care. Cryotherapy helps improve sleep by decreasing mood disorder symptoms that keep people up. Getting enough rest allows your body to recover the way it should and reduce symptoms the next day — creating a positive cycle.
Depression has various symptoms, including persistent, deep sadness and loss of interest that interferes with your quality of life. It can also cause physical symptoms, like muscle aches.
A recent study found regular cryotherapy sessions significantly improved depression symptoms. Participants reported increases in overall mood, quality of life and condition acceptance.
Generalized anxiety disorder includes severe worry and restlessness that interferes with daily life.
Cryotherapy can help treat symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The hormones released during the session can temporarily ward off symptoms, and the sleep benefits also help reduce symptoms.
Thanks to cryotherapy’s effect on depression, it could also show improvements in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is associated with periods of mania followed by depression. The hormones released during cryotherapy could help with symptom relief.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a form of anxiety that involves obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive reactions.
Due to its similarities to generalized anxiety disorder, professionals believe cryotherapy could also benefit OCD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition found in patients who experience trauma. It causes various life-altering symptoms, like flashbacks, severe anxiety, hostility and social isolation.
Studies link PTSD to increased inflammation, which is believed to contribute to those symptoms. Experts believe the anti-inflammatory effects of cryotherapy can help.
Can Cryotherapy Help the Physical Symptoms of Mood Disorders?
Aside from the sleep and anti-inflammation benefits, many use cryotherapy to treat other physical ailments that connect to mood disorders, including:
- Reducing migraines: Some mood disorders can cause migraines, and cryotherapy can help relieve them. Migraines can also contribute to anxiety and depression since they can make patients wary about participating in activities. Debilitating attacks can cause isolation, which can contribute to depression.
- Pain relief: Cryotherapy is known for reducing pain and improving the mood of patients with chronic issues. It can also help relieve the discomfort associated with depression.
- Cancer prevention and treatment: There is evidence that this therapy can assist in cancer treatments and prevent the development of cancerous cells. The disease is understandably associated with mood disorders, and cryotherapy can decrease the risk.
- Dementia prevention: Experts believe cryotherapy can prevent dementia due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Dementia patients can suffer from depression.
- Eczema reduction: Eczema symptoms can range from mildly annoying itching to life-altering pain. Severe eczema can lead to anxiety and depression.
Who Shouldn’t Get Cryotherapy?
You shouldn’t get cryotherapy if pregnant, as the freezing temperatures could harm you or your unborn baby. Those with blood pressure, heart or vascular problems also shouldn’t participate in cryotherapy without a doctor’s approval.
Cryotherapy worsens neuropathy and other nerve conditions, so it’s best to avoid it if you live with those illnesses.
Always check in with your doctor before beginning a change in your treatment, including starting cryotherapy. Ask about how the therapy can impact you and the pros and cons.
Using Cryotherapy to Treat Mood Disorders
Cryotherapy is a great option to help treat various mood disorders. Participants can feel better and have a higher quality of life when used as part of a broader treatment plan.