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High body temperature may be a sign of depression

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, has uncovered a potential link between body temperature and depression. While depression often presents with symptoms like sleep disturbances, loss of pleasure, and feelings of hopelessness, the researchers investigated whether changes in body temperature could also indicate depressive states.

Their study, published in Scientific Reports, involved analyzing data collected from over 20,000 participants across 106 countries. Participants wore body temperature monitors and were asked to report their temperature readings along with any depressive symptoms on a daily basis over seven months. The results revealed an interesting trend: individuals experiencing depression tended to have higher body temperatures. As depressive symptoms worsened, so did body temperature.

However, the researchers couldn’t definitively determine whether the increase in body temperature was a cause or a result of depression. Nonetheless, they suggested an intriguing possibility: using temperature-based interventions as a new approach to treating depression. For example, they proposed exploring the therapeutic benefits of activities like jacuzzi sessions or sauna use, which are known to stimulate the body’s self-cooling mechanisms.

Lead researcher Professor Ashley Mason highlighted the potential of such interventions, noting that heating the body could lead to a rebound effect, resulting in longer-lasting reductions in body temperature compared to direct cooling methods like ice baths. The researchers believe that their extensive study, the largest of its kind to date, provides new insights into understanding and addressing depression, especially given the increasing global prevalence of depressive disorders.

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