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Flat_Spin

Cold Showers

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While idly surfing the web the other day I stumbled across a forum claiming cold showers can improve mood and motivation, and reduce depression.

I’m now on day three of a cold shower regime and think they just might be onto something. Like many here, I’m usually at my worst in the mornings. Upon waking, my brain is in neutral for five or ten seconds before I remember where I’m at in my life, and the gloom and anxiety kick smartly into gear. It typically takes me over an hour to get out of bed after I wake up — which is totally self-defeating, because the longer I lie there, the worse I feel.

But the shock of the cold water seems to divert my negative thought processes; a couple of minutes later I’m out of the shower, shivering a little, but at least feeling able to face the day. I believe Karl Marx said “the antidote to mental suffering is physical pain.” Cold showers would seem to offer a relatively harmless form of this antidote.

I live in a hot climate, so my shower doesn’t get icy cold. Cool and bracing seems to do the job. Any Minnesotans or Norwegians here can really put this theory to the test.

If other forum members have tried or want to try this very cheap therapy (lower utility bills!) I’d be interested to hear their experiences. For the time being I’m calling it hydro convulsive therapy (HCT).

Ironically, the traditional use of cold showers -- to control libido -- seems to have been misguided. Some studies report that cold showers actually raise testosterone levels in males.

FS

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This is interesting. Maybe I should try it as I always get into trouble for using too much hot water in our house. It's summer here anyway, so it shouldn't be too hard to bear it. Still, a freezing shower isn't the best motivator for getting out of bed.

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thats interesting. on one of my hospital stays they were renovating the hospital, there was a particular tap turned off beneath a wall panel (that i didnt know about) and the shower was icy cold. i kept complaining but they kept telling me that i just needed to be patient because the hospital was being renovated and it took a while for the water to come through. after a few days i insisted that i had sat for 20 minutes with my hand under the water waiting for it to get warm and it hadnt got warm. so they had the tradespeople come and fix it up for me finally. but after reading what you wrote i wonder if some sneaky psychiatrist didnt go in there and turn the tap themselves.

more seriously though. my mother is hospitalised for PTSD at the moment and she says the showers are all cold.

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I do not live in a hot climate (generally). As a matter of fact temperatures were below freezing last night and my car was covered in ice, and water pipes are designed to keep the water in them from freezing and bursting the pipes open. Given that, it is easy to understand that I can not even stand 30 seconds in a cold shower.

Its not the pain factor its the fact that my body will freeze up from shivering, and I have to shower extremely fast to keep my body from shivering up. Even though I prefer cooler temps over warmer does not matter.

Now that is just me, my body has a high surface area. Generally speaking, people with a low surface area can tolerate colder water better because their bodies radiate less heat out and retain more body heat.

Now the shock of a cold shower, with my muscles going through extreme spasms, for me is one form of drastic physical exertion and stimulation, equal to quick, brief, rapid, forced physical exercise as my body frantically tries to build internal heat to combat the cold shower.

When I get out of that shower, I must say I do feel good, my heart is racing, my blood is flowing, adrenalin (and testosterene) in high production, body systems are hyped up, muscles are worked up, in order for the body to maintain internal temperature.

Coming out of that shower back into warmth, my body relaxes, and is bit flushed. As my body relaxes, I feel purged. I become more appreciating of the warmth in the room. Body feels more limber, muscles feel pumped up. Warm showers do not do that for me. But I still hate cold showers because soon as I jump in in less than a minute I jump back out and I hate not taking a thorough shower.

Edited by svendorrian

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No need to apologise CG: I'm pretty sure I'd have to abandon my cold shower regime if I ever find myself in a Canadian winter.

But it's 90*F here today (and most days), so it's a little easier for me. Perhaps you can try to imagine you're on a tropical island?

FS

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Interestingly, I stumbled across this video which states the opposite (increase body heat)...

I think we're not allowed to post youtube videos so you can search for this on youtube if you're interested:

Rethinking How We Understand and Treat Depression: Charles Raison at TEDxTucsonSalon

The statement about heat starts at around 11:00

From what I gather, though, the point is to increase the amount of seratonin (like most antidepressants do), but localized to a specific area of the brain (in this case, the one that is most active in sensing temperature). So it may very well be that hot or cold could do the trick?

I haven't tried it personally, but I guess it's not much of a risk to give it a try...

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I used to set my alarm to something that would shock the crap out of me, thus having essentially the same effect to get myself out of bed as a cold shower would. I'm older now, and when I try it now, I just end up with tremors and heart palpitations.....sigh. But I'm awake, so I guess it still works. :wwww:

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