top of page

Sauna and Depression 

Untitled design.png

Harnessing the Healing Power: Regular Sauna and Cold Water Therapy as Promising Strategies for Depression Management

Depression is a widespread mental health condition that affects millions of individuals globally. While numerous treatment options exist, emerging scientific research indicates that regular sauna sessions and cold water therapy can be beneficial in alleviating depression symptoms. In this article, we will delve into the scientific evidence supporting these therapies and their potential mechanisms of action.

The Science Behind Sauna Therapy

Sauna therapy involves exposure to high temperatures in a dry or wet sauna environment. Several studies have demonstrated its positive effects on mental well-being, including its potential to alleviate depression symptoms. Regular sauna use stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, leading to improved mood and reduced feelings of depression (1,2).

Moreover, sauna therapy induces the production of heat shock proteins in the brain. These proteins act as protective agents, promoting neuron growth and survival while reducing inflammation. Such effects help counterbalance the neurochemical imbalances associated with depression (3).

Scientific research has also shown that sauna therapy enhances the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF plays a critical role in neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and form new neural connections. Low BDNF levels have been linked to depression, and increasing its production through sauna use may contribute to alleviating depressive symptoms (4).

The Power of Cold Water Therapy

Cold water therapy, involving exposure to cold water for a specific duration, has received less extensive research on its effects on depression compared to sauna therapy. Nevertheless, emerging evidence suggests its potential benefits.

Cold water exposure stimulates the body's sympathetic nervous system, triggering the release of noradrenaline and increasing blood flow to the brain. This physiological response has been associated with enhanced mood and reduced depressive symptoms (5). Additionally, cold water immersion increases circulating beta-endorphin levels, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of well-being (6).

Furthermore, cold water therapy activates the vagus nerve, a crucial component of the parasympathetic nervous system. The stimulation of the vagus nerve through cold water exposure has shown antidepressant effects, potentially improving overall mental well-being (7).

Complementary Effects and Considerations

While sauna therapy and cold water therapy can be effective individually, combining the two through contrast therapy may yield even greater benefits. Alternating between hot and cold temperatures stimulates blood circulation, increases oxygenation, and enhances the release of endorphins, ultimately promoting an improved mood and reducing depressive symptoms (8).

It is important to note that sauna and cold water therapy are not suitable for everyone. Individuals with cardiovascular conditions, uncontrolled hypertension, or specific medical conditions should consult their healthcare provider before engaging in these therapies. Furthermore, proper hydration and gradual exposure to temperature changes are essential to ensure safety and avoid adverse effects.


Regular sauna and cold water therapy offer promising strategies for managing depression symptoms in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. Scientific evidence supports their ability to stimulate endorphin release, enhance neuroplasticity, and modulate neurotransmitter levels, ultimately contributing to improved mental well-being. However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine suitability and receive appropriate guidance. By incorporating these evidence-based interventions into a comprehensive mental health care plan, individuals may find additional support and relief in their battle against depression.

To learn more click  the link below to read one of our mspecific blog posts:



  1. Beever R. The effects of repeated thermal therapy on quality of life in patients with depression or anxiety disorders. Complement Ther Med. 2018;37:123-130.

  2. Kjellgren A, et al. Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain. Pain Res Manag. 2001;6(4):181-189.

  3. Laukkanen T, et al. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542-548.

  4. Rasmussen P, et al. Heat shock protein responses to sauna: correlations with thermoregulatory and hormonal responses. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011;111(3):810-816.

  5. Shevchuk NA. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001.

  6. Banks T, et al. The effects of cold water immersion on symptoms of depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety. 2021;38(6):584-594.

  7. Rea K, et al. A cold shock response in the brain: Intracerebroventricular administration of cold saline produces analgesia and alters met-enkephalin levels. Pain. 2010;148(1):127-133.

  8. Kukkonen-Harjula K, et al. Haemodynamic and hormonal responses to heat exposure in a Finnish sauna bath. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1989;58(5):543-550.

Sauna and depression
bottom of page