Health & Fitness

Effects of Hyperthermia on depression, sleep and heart rate variability in patients with depressive disorder

Kristen Sparrow • December 22, 2019

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This study looks at hot baths given twice a week in depressed patients to see if they had improvement in their symtoms  and HRV. In this pilot controlled study, patients with moderate depression improved by 3 points on the HAMD scale, or about the same amount as taking an anti-depressant. There was no perceptible difference in their HRV before and after or compared to placebo.  Hat tip to Rhonda Patrick’s instagram.



Despite advances in the treatment of depression, one-third of depressed patients fail to respond to conventional antidepressant medication. There is a need for more effective treatments with fewer side effects. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether hyperthermic baths reduce depressive symptoms in adults with depressive disorder.


Randomized, two-arm placebo-controlled, 8-week pilot trial. Medically stable outpatients with confirmed depressive disorder (ICD-10: F32/F33) who were moderately depressed as determined by the 17-item Hamilton Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score ≥18 were randomly assigned to 2 hyperthermic baths (40 °C) per week for 4 weeks or a sham intervention with green light and follow-up after 4 weeks. Main outcome measure was the change in HAM-Dtotal score from baseline (T0) to the 2-week time point (T1).


A total of 36 patients were randomized (hyperthermic baths, n = 17; sham condition, n = 19). The intention-to-treat analysis showed a significant (P = .037) difference in the change in HAM-Dtotal score with 3.14 points after 4 interventions (T1) in favour of the hyperthermic bath group compared to the placebo group.


This pilot study suggests that hyperthermic baths do have generalized efficacy in depressed patients.