Anxiety and depression are debilitating mental illnesses that affect over 40 million people in the United States. They make it hard to carry out your daily activities, and can even lead to chronic depression.
Anxiety or depression can be caused by many factors, but one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression has been discovered by Finnish sauna experts: enter the sauna room!
Saunas have been used for centuries to improve mental well-being and physical health. The heat and humidity of a sauna open up the pores, allowing toxins to be released from the body.
Read on to find out why saunas are effective solutions for mood issues, emotional stress, and depression!
How Does A Sauna Help With Anxiety And Other Mental Health Issues?
You may be wondering “Why would I need to use a sauna for anxiety and depression?” Well, it is because of the heat. A sauna provides warmth and comfort in an enclosed space. This simple act can provide relief from the symptoms of anxiety and reduce depression.
It also decreases your heart rate and blood pressure while increasing endorphins that increase mood and relaxation! In fact, even more so than exercise alone, heat stress in a dry sauna has been shown to boost beta-endorphin levels.
Sauna therapy is one of the best ways to relax your mind, body, and soul; you’ll feel like a new person when you’re done with your sauna session!
Are There Research-Backed Studies That Show Saunas Help People With Anxiety And Depression?
Yes, there were documented studies proving the link between saunas and their mental health benefits.
In a study from 2009, researchers found that sauna bathing has “significant anti-stress and uplifting effects.” In fact, the results of this study even showed how participants had more energy after they left the sauna!
Another study from 2004 found that sauna therapy sessions “were associated with significant reductions in depressive symptoms.” Following therapy, subjects experienced a substantial reduction in their symptoms as demonstrated by scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
Benefits Of Using A Sauna For Anxiety And Depression
There are many benefits in regularly using saunas to help ease your anxiety and improve mental well-being.
Sauna Helps To Improve Mood And Promotes Relaxation
Sauna is an excellent anxiety and stress relief because it provides a quiet environment where you can relax your mind and body.
The heat from the sauna encourages sweating which releases toxins from the body. This detoxification process can help to improve mood and reduce stress levels.
Sauna Enhances Sleep Quality
Regular sauna use may lead to a better night’s sleep due to the body’s natural release of melatonin during exposure to heat. This means that a sauna could help people with insomnia or other sleeping difficulties related to their mental health issues.
The use of saunas regularly also increases deep sleep by helping sauna users get adequate rest, which can improve brain function and mental well-being. Finnish research indicates that sauna use is a key factor in allowing deep, more peaceful, and improved sleep.
Other ways of improving sleep include blocking out blue light prior to sleep, applying sleeping supplements, lying on an acupressure mat, supplementing with magnesium, collagen, and melatonin if needed – and blackening out the walls and doors.
Sauna Maintains Cardiovascular Health
Sauna helps with heart and cardiovascular diseases. It’s important for those with anxiety and depression because these conditions are often associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
The heat from sauna exposure triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol, leading to a temporary increase in stress levels. However, regular sauna use may help to reduce overall stress levels over time.
Sauna Improves Blood Flow
Sauna increases circulation, which is important for people with anxiety and depression because these conditions can be linked to poor blood flow.
Research also shows that sauna improves circulation in the brain. This is important because anxiety and depression can cause low blood flow to the brain, which leads to further issues and complications for people with these conditions.
Sauna Increases Your Heart Rate
The heat stress from a sauna causes an increased heart rate, just like exercise does. An elevated heart rate helps eliminate excess cortisol, known as the stress hormone. An infrared sauna study was done on patients who had experienced major depressive disorder up to three months before they participated in 30-minute sessions of infrared sauna therapy once per day over seven days (four times total).
It revealed that the infrared light led to significant improvements after only four treatments—in mood symptoms, feelings about their bodies/self-image, quality of life, and the ability to cope with daily stressors—compared with patients who received 30-minutes of relaxation therapy after each infrared sauna session.
Sauna Boosts Your Immune System
Regularly spending time in a sauna can help boost your immune system. This makes it easier to deal with the stresses that come along with anxiety or depression since you’ll have more energy to fight these conditions on a daily basis!
Does A Sauna Bath Increase Serotonin?
This is a question that millions of people would like to know the answer to. It’s simply not clear-cut.
Sauna is known to increase body temperature and it would be logical that increased serotonin levels will come with relaxation, but this has yet to be studied in detail.
It’s also worth noting that sauna does affect norepinephrine which regulates moods via the central nervous system, so you can expect improved mental health after a session.
It will increase norepinephrine in the form of noradrenaline which is associated with mood improvement, reduced anxiety, and stress responsiveness. Saunas increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
The neurotrophic factor is a neurotrophic protein within the brain that reduces our chances of suffering mental illnesses. This works to protect and rehabilitate our brain cells as we grow more new neurons.
It has been researched in several anxiety studies and has been attributed to its effects on mood and stress. Saunas tend to offer relaxation effects that can be beneficial for hyperactivity or insomnia problems too following periods of depression against major dependencies on external support such as long-term hospitalization.
Sauna Therapy And The Release Of Endorphins
The use of heat therapy and hyperthermia in saunas increase beta-endorphins in the brain. Increasing endorphin levels helps to relieve pain relief and corresponds to feeling good after a sauna treatment.
Endorphins provide a sense of tranquility, satisfaction, and good health and have been demonstrated to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Studies have seen a “rise in plasma beta-endorphin, ACTH, and cortisol in cancer patients undergoing whole-body hyperthermia.”
Does An Infrared Sauna Also Improve Anxiety And Depressive Symptoms?
Infrared sauna sessions can also improve depressive disorders by reducing negative emotions like anger, guilt, worry, irritability, and fearfulness.
In fact, the infrared sauna treatment’s effects were more powerful than those of a red light therapy device. Doctors believe that this is because infrared light trigger a response in our brains that helps us feel better about ourselves as well as reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness.
An infrared sauna has been shown to help regulate mood hormones through stimulating ATP production (Adenosine Triphosphate) which creates energy for cells throughout your body including those within the brain. This is why infrared sauna therapy provides benefits for anxiety and depression.
How Do I Use Traditional Saunas Or Infrared Saunas For Anxiety And Depression?
Find a sauna near you by searching for local saunas on Google. Some people might also prefer at-home far infrared saunas – whichever works for you.
1. When you enter the facility, remove all clothes and wrap yourself in a towel. This will keep you warm.
2. Sit in the sauna for 10-15 minutes at a time with the door open to allow cool air to come into the room. You can repeat this process up to four times.
3. Stop sauna bathing when your heart rate is about 120 beats per minute or your body starts feeling numb or cold – your brain needs oxygen, too!
4. The best way to use traditional saunas or infrared saunas for mental health benefits is to start with a few minutes of exposure and slowly work your way up to 20-30 minutes.
5. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before and after sauna use to stay hydrated.
6. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, stop using the sauna immediately.
When Should Sauna Bathing Be Done For Anxiety And Stress Relief?
Some people use it when they are under a lot of stress. Others do it to relieve depression symptoms. Finally, some will try sauna for anxiety relief before going through an intense psychiatric treatment program to improve their mental health state.
When Is The Best Time Of The Day For A Sauna Session To Improve Mental Health?
It depends on your preference, but many people suffering from a mental illness opt to use a sauna is in the morning. You can feel revitalized, relaxed, and reenergized throughout your day.
Meanwhile, some people find that they sleep better when they take advantage of heat therapy in the evening rather than first thing in the morning or later on at night.
How Often Should I Use A Sauna To Relieve My Anxiety And Depression?
There’s no definitive answer, as everyone reacts differently to sauna use. However, it’s generally recommended that you go in a few times a week for the best results.
You may want to start out with shorter sessions and work your way up to longer ones.
A sauna session also helps with fibromyalgia or more serious conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome when used at least three times per week.
In addition, sauna bathing may help reduce symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal from addiction.
How Long Do I Need To Sit In Warm Water To Improve Mental Health?
Some people might need more time, but it’s generally recommended to start with 15 minutes and increase gradually if needed.
What Is An Ideal Sauna Bathing Temperature For Anxiety?
Most anxiety studies recommend 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) as optimal to stimulate serotonin production.
However, it has been found that some people feel best at a lower temperature around 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
What Are Other Nervous System Diseases Sauna Bathing Can Help With?
The sauna is increasingly being used in medical circles, not just for mental health benefits but also to aid with diseases such as the following:
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system.
The sauna can reduce joint and muscle pain, control bladder problems, and improve mood by relaxation of muscles through sweating. Sweating also helps with the detoxification of heavy metals which are linked to MS.
The heat from a sauna will help relax stiff muscles too, reducing spasticity symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. It can alleviate fatigue and help people sleep better at night as well – all very beneficial for those living with this illness day in and out!
Parkinson’s disease patients often suffer muscle stiffness (spasticity), tremors such as shaking hands or head nodding, slow movement (bradykinesia), and problems with balance and posture.
The sauna is beneficial to Parkinson’s sufferers as it helps to improve blood circulation, stimulate the nerve cells, release endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), and promote relaxation. These all help to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Alzheimer’s patients can often become agitated and restless, experience mood swings and have difficulty sleeping.
Sauna bathing is said to be helpful for Alzheimer’s patients as it can help improve moods, increase socialization opportunities, encourage exercise (which is important as Alzheimer’s sufferers often lose muscle mass), improve sleep patterns, and promote detoxification.
It has even been suggested that regular sauna bathing may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is a mental illness where there is a cognitive decline such as memory, thinking, understanding and reasoning. This can lead to problems with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating.
The heat from a sauna can help improve blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels, stimulate nerve cells, release endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) and promote relaxation – all of which are beneficial for those living with dementia.
Heat exposure has a protective effect on the brain by promoting cell survival and reducing inflammation.
However, sauna therapy is not a medical treatment. It should only be used under the supervision of your doctor for therapeutic purposes.
What Are The Safety Precautions When Having Sauna Sessions For Anxiety And Depression?
Going to sauna sessions requires safety precautions that you need for treatment of anxiety and depression.
Who Should Not Use Saunas To Relieve Anxiety?
It is best to consult with your doctor before regularly doing sauna bathing for anxiety relief if:
• You are currently taking medication
• You have a cardiovascular disease
• You are pregnant and/or breastfeeding
• You are a child under the age of 14
Do People With Medical Conditions Mentioned Above Need Supervision When Using Saunas For Anxiety?
There are numerous types of saunas, all with varying temperatures. But it will be dependent on one’s health condition if this is safe enough to do without the aid of a professional who knows your history well, particularly important when dealing with high blood pressure or any other heart problems.
You may want to speak to your doctor before using them regularly if you’re not sure.
Can Sauna Therapy Be Combined With Other Treatments?
Sauna for anxiety and depression can be used alone as part of treatment or combined with other treatments such as medication, counseling, and lifestyle changes (e.g., exercise, meditation) for maximum health benefits on overall wellness and mental well-being.
Sauna has been used as part of treatment programs throughout history, including ancient cultures like Finland and Japan. It continues to play an important role across Europe today where countries such as Germany have specific policies regarding public access to saunas.
There are sauna associations all over the world, including at least one in every state of America. This makes it easy to find a nearby facility if you need help with mental health through heat therapy.
If your doctor approves, consider trying out a few sessions when you feel anxious or stressed – just don’t forget that the health benefits may not manifest immediately!
Keep in mind that you may have to try several different sauna sessions before finding a routine that works for your anxiety.
Sauna for Mental Health
The relaxing atmosphere of a sauna combined with the prolonged therapeutic benefit of heat therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and mental health in general.
While a sauna is an excellent way to relax and reduce stress hormone levels, it doesn’t work right away!
Don’t be discouraged if the first few times don’t seem very effective – just try again later or in another session. Many people find that regular use of heat therapy can result in significant mental health improvements over time.
The bonus part? Sauna bathing is safe, easy to do, and can be done even in the privacy of your own home.
So if you’re looking for an all-natural way to reduce your anxiety and stress levels, look no further than the sauna! Not only is it relaxing, but it has a host of other health benefits as well.