A new study has suggested that a simple cold-water bath might sometimes cure, and even prevent, the unbearable mood disorder.
The study, led by Nikolai Shevchuk, believes that the biological explanation of the new therapy revolves around a part of the brainstem known, appropriately enough, as the locus ceruleus, or "blue spot."
Shevchuk said that short, cold showers might stimulate the blue spot, which is the brain's primary source of noradrenaline, a chemical that could help mediate depression.
"The possible antidepressant effect may also have to do with the mild electroshock delivered to the brain by a cold shower, because of the unusually high density of cold receptors in the skin," Discovery quoted him, as saying.
Shevchuk explained that the nerve endings are 3-10 times higher in density than those registering warmth.
Shevchuk proposed that depression might be caused by two factors, first being - genetic makeup that predisposes an individual to the disorder. Prior research has documented that depression can run in families, but since some sufferers report no prior family history and many people develop depression later in life, genes don't appear to explain all cases.
Secondly, he suspects that a lifestyle lacking sufficient physiological stress, such as brief changes in body temperature, might also be a contributing factor in the disorder.
Shevchuk, however, said that cold showers could also have adverse effects, particularly for heart patients and other already at-risk patients.
Therefore, he advises those who wish to try out the treatment to check with their doctors first.
As for the recommended approach to take a cold shower, it is around 68 degrees, for 2 to 3 minutes once or twice daily, preceded by a five-minute gradual adaptation to the temperature.
The study will be published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.