We have a new clue about depression, and we found it in an unexpected place: body temperature

Depression is something that goes beyond our brain. Like many other diseases, this psychological disorder manifests itself in other aspects of our physiology. Like our body temperature.

Temperature and depression. a research identified A relationship between body temperature and depression. The team responsible for the analysis observed a positive correlation between the variables, that is, the presence of depressive symptoms was associated with a higher body temperature in the participants.

The relationship was proportional: the greater the severity of the symptoms, the higher the body temperature. They also observed an apparent relationship between temperature variability and depressive symptoms, but this did not prove to be statistically significant, so no conclusions can be drawn on this matter.

Beyond the statistical facts, there is little What is known As an example of this relationship, the team noted that it is still a mystery whether this increase in body temperature is due to a decrease in regulatory capacity, increased temperature through metabolic processes, or a combination of factors.

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Over 20,000 participants. To conduct the study, the team compiled data from 20,880 participants from 106 countries. During the study, which lasted seven months in 2020, participants wore a device with a thermometer to measure their body temperature and reported temperature and depression symptoms on a daily basis.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest study to examine the relationship between body temperature (measured by both self-report and wearable sensors) and depressive symptoms in a geographically large sample.” A press release explained Psychiatrist Ashley Mason, co-author of the work. studying It was published in the newspaper Scientific report.

Old doubts. Although this is perhaps the most multifaceted, it is not the first analysis to point to this relationship. A study published in 2003 The existence of this relationship and its possible association with the 5-HTT protein, the “serotonin transporter.”

Correlation and causation. The present study finds a link between temperature and depression but does not indicate a possible mode of causation, if there is one. It is impossible to determine from the available data whether depression causes increased body temperature or whether a higher body temperature increases our risk of depression.

It is also not possible to deny that both have an underlying cause that cannot be seen in the analysis: stress or inflammatory processes can independently cause both depressive symptoms and an increase in body temperature.

Cold or hot as therapy? Understanding what’s going on can help us better understand depression and, therefore, provide us with the tools we’re looking for to combat it. Until now, heat was used to improve the condition of patients. This type of therapy is understood to have a “rebound effect”, which helps the body regain its thermal self-regulation, Add team.

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Picture | Polina Tankilevich