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Repeated Thermal Therapy Diminishes Appetite Loss and Subjective Complaints in Mildly Depressed Patients

Masuda, Akinori MD, PhD; Nakazato, Masamitsu MD, PhD; Kihara, Takashi MD, PhD; Minagoe, Shinichi MD, PhD; Tei, Chuwa MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000171812.67767.8f
Original Articles

Objective: We observed that repeated thermal therapy improved appetite loss and general well-being in patients with chronic heart failure. The purpose of this study is to clarify the effects of repeated thermal therapy in mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective complaints.

Methods: Twenty-eight mildly depressed inpatients with general fatigue, appetite loss, and somatic and mental complaints were randomly assigned to thermal therapy group (n = 14) or nonthermal therapy group (n = 14). Patients in the thermal therapy group were treated with 60°C far-infrared ray dry sauna for 15 minutes and were then kept at bed rest with a blanket for 30 minutes once a day, 5 days a week for a total of 20 sessions in 4 weeks.

Results: Four weeks after admission, somatic complaints, hunger, and relaxation scores significantly improved (p < .001, p < .0001, p < .0001, respectively) and mental complaints slightly improved (p = .054) in the thermal therapy group compared with the nonthermal therapy group. Furthermore, the plasma ghrelin concentrations and daily caloric intake in the thermal therapy group significantly increased compared with the nonthermal therapy group (p < .05).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that repeated thermal therapy may be useful for mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective complaints.

ICD = International Classification of Disease; BMI = body mass index; CMI = Cornell Medical Index; SDS = Self-Rating Depression Scale; VAS = visual analog scale.

From the Psychosomatic Medicine, Respiratory and Stress Care Center, Kagoshima University Hospital, Kagoshima, Japan (A.M.); the Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Miyazaki University, Miyazaki, Japan (M.N.); and Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan (T.K., S.M., C.T.).

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Akinori Masuda, MD, Psychosomatic Medicine, Respiratory and Stress Care center, Kagoshima University Hospital, 8-35-1 Sakuragaoka, Kagoshima City, 890-8520, Japan. E-mail: masudaak@m.kufm.kagoshima-u.ac.jp

Received for publication November 10, 2003; revision received November 25, 2004.

Copyright © 2005 by American Psychosomatic Society
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