A surprising link has been established between body temperature and depression by American researchers. According to their findings, people suffering from depression have a higher body temperature than others.
A priori, nothing links body temperature and depression. However, according to American scientists from the University of California San Francisco, people suffering from depression have a higher body temperature than others. This therefore suggests that cooling patients’ bodies could have a benefit for their mental health.
Body temperature measurements that increase with depression
For this study, researchers analyzed data from more than 20,000 participants from 106 different countries, wearing a body temperature measuring device. In addition to this, they also reported their depression symptoms for the entire duration of the study which took place in early 2020, i.e. seven months. Results: As depression symptoms worsened, participants’ body temperature increased.
The mechanism not completely clarified by scientists
The direction in which this interaction occurs, however, has not been understood by scientists. They still don’t know whether depression increases body temperature or whether a higher temperature causes depression.
They also don’t know whether the higher body temperature seen in people with depression reflects a decreased ability to cool themselves, increased heat production from metabolic processes, or a combination of both. “Findings shed light on how a new method of treating depression might work” explains Professor Ashley Mason, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychiatry at the Weill Institute for Neuroscience at UCSF.
Towards a new treatment for depression?
“Paradoxically“notes the scientist”Warming patients can actually cause a drop in their body temperature that will last longer than just direct cooling, such as through an ice bath.“.
The researchers argue that, to their knowledge, it is “the largest study to date examining the association between body temperature – assessed using self-report methods and wearable sensors – and depressive symptoms in a geographically large sample” et “are excited about the possibilities of a new treatment route” of this mental pathology.