Effects of hyperthermic baths on depression, sleep and heart rate variability in patients with depressive disorder: A randomized clinical pilot trial

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Abstract

Background: 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. Methods: 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). Results: 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. Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that hyperthermic baths do have generalized efficacy in depressed patients. Trial registration:DRKS00004803 at drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de, German Clinical Trials Register (registration date 2016-02-02), retrospectively registered.

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Naumann, J., Grebe, J., Kaifel, S., Weinert, T., Sadaghiani, C., & Huber, R. (2017). Effects of hyperthermic baths on depression, sleep and heart rate variability in patients with depressive disorder: A randomized clinical pilot trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1676-5

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