Whole body cryotherapy as a novel adjuvant therapy for depression and anxiety


The whole body cryotherapy (WBCT) is becoming a more popular adjuvant method in rehabilitation and renewal. The objective was to evaluate influence of WBCT on depressive and anxiety symptoms. Materials and methods. The study group (n=26) was treated using a series of 15 daily visits to a cryo- genic chamber (-110° to 160°C) which lasted 2-3 minutes each.

A control (n=34) group was similar to the study group as concerning diagnoses (anxiety and depressive disorders), age and gender. Both groups received standard out-patient psychopharmacotherapy.

The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Hamil- ton Anxiety Rating Scale were used to evaluate the severity of symptoms before and after WBCT (3 weeks observation). The self-rating life satisfaction scale was used as well. Two efficacy measures were established: a significantly greater reduction of the scales’ scores and mean scores lower at the endpoint in the study group in comparison to the control group.


Both efficacy criteria were fulfilled for the depression scale in 12 of the 16 HDRS items except gastrointestinal and genitourinary symptoms, hypochondria, body mass and criticism. Concerning the HARS scale, in 11 of 14 anxiety items (except gastrointestinal and genitourinary symptoms and behav- ior) the mean reduction was significantly bigger and the mean final status was better in the experimental group in comparison to the control one.

As for the life satisfaction scale, efficacy was shown in 6 of the11 items: physical and mental health, everyday activity, vocational activity, hobbies and general life satisfac- tion – in the experimental group.


These findings suggest a possible role for WBCT as a short-term adjuvant therapy for depressive and anxious patients.

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