Did you know that there is now a proven link between levels of chronic, systemic levels of inflammation and depression and anxiety? Additionally, researchers are now finding that this chronic inflammatory state is frequently caused by long term infections, auto immune diseases, and lyme disease. It’s no longer thought that people are depressed because they are sick, the sickness is causing the depression on a physiological level. Once again—it’s not just in your head. There are real biochemical changes that are happening that are causing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. When the immune system is working on over drive for too long to fight these chronic illnesses, the body overproduces pro inflammatory cytokines that literally alter your brain chemicals producing symptoms of depression.
New and emerging research is proving that those with depression and anxiety have higher levels of these pro-inflammatory markers in their blood and show extreme signs of oxidative stress. Long term oxidative stress produces chronic inflammation which affects your brain health. (1)
So how does Whole Body Cryotherapy help? The main purpose of Whole Body Cryotherapy, or “cryo”, is to trigger the body’s natural response mechanisms to reduce systemic inflammation. When the body is subjected to the cold temperatures of the cryosauna, the body’s cold sensors are stimulated, triggering the body’s “fight or flight” response. The fight or flight response causes the body to powerfully vasoconstrict, sending blood to the center of the body. This gives the body the opportunity to enrich the blood with oxygen and necessary enzymes and nutrients. In turn, this allows the internal organs to be bathed in this newly enriched blood efficiently during the WBC treatment, essentially, “rebooting,” the internal organs. The new blood also helps to expel toxins from subcutaneous skin layers, encourages a healthy cell renewal process, and replaces and eliminates dead cells from peripheral tissues. This is the process of whole body rejuvenation from the cellular level; from the inside out.
Additionally, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are activated to respond to this sympathetic nervous system response and generate powerful biochemical reactions triggering hormonal and brain chemical changes. Increased levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisone, and Beta Endorphins have been documented. Studies have demonstrated an elimination of the pro inflammatory cytokines mentioned above, namely TNF- Additionally, whole body cryotherapy also helps the body produce more of it’s own antioxidants. 2 Doctors in Poland have demonstrated that after a series of 15 treatments, “a significant decrease in anxiety and depression were reported, measured by the HDRS (Hamilton’s depression rating scale) and HARS (Hamilton’s anxiety rating scale).”3
The bottom line? Cryo helps to eliminate inflammation from the body that is contributing to the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is giving the body a chance to fight. The best part is that this is a completely natural, physiological response. It is not invasive or a drug with possible side effects. We are here to help you figure out the best protocols for your specific health situation.
What else can you do to battle the inflammation that is causing depression and anxiety symptoms?
- EAT. Pay attention to what you eat. If you eat something inflammatory, balance it out with 2 foods that are anti-inflammatory. For example, this is why I drink a glass of lemon water and my greens drink before I have a cup of coffee in the morning.
- MOVE. Movement doesn’t have to be an hour-long exercise class at the gym. While these classes are great when you can get to them, just move. Walk around the block, take 2-3 minutes an hour and stretch at your desk (Google “office yoga”). Start conducting your meetings while walking. Little bursts of movement add up throughout the day.
- BREATHE. Really breathe. Most of us don’t know how. The benefits of actually breathing are immeasurable. Check out this great class hosted by Dr. Arianne Missimer that we have coming up at Restore.
- DECREASE oxidative stress. Get those levels checked out here with Dr. Seema Bonney who has recently joined our office. http://www.livelonginphilly.com
Finally, Please don’t hesitate to contact me, Dr. Gray if you have questions if this is the right treatment for you. I can be reached at 610-341-9300.
1. Dantzer R, O’Connor JC, Freund GG, Johnson RW, Kelley KW. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nature reviews Neuroscience. 2008;9(1):46-56. doi:10.1038/nrn2297.
2. Miller E, Markiewicz G, Saluk J, Majsterek I. Effect of short-term cryostimulation on antioxidative status and its clinical applications in humans. Eur Journal Appl Physiol. 2012; 112:1645-1652 DOI 10.1007/s00421-011-2122-x.
3. Rymaszewska J, Ramsey D, Chladzinska-Kiejna S. Whole body cryotherapy as adjunct treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders. Immunol. Ther. 2008; 56:63-68. Doi: 10.1007/s00005-008-0006-5.