Skip to content



Vail Health Is Diving Into the Science of Saunas and Cold Plunges to Treat Depression

saunas and cold plunges to treat depression

Cold plunges have begun to gain popularity in recent years, with wellness and fitness enthusiasts sharing how the icy dive has transformative impacts on their minds and bodies.

Now, the science is starting to catch up. Research into the effects of such treatments includes a new study launched in Vail into whether a cold plunge (following heat therapy) can lead to lower levels of depression.

One year after its creation, the Vail Health Behavioral Health’s Innovation Center has started enrolling patients for its inaugural research study, the “CHILL’D “study, exploring just that.

“We have a lot of people who are either in therapy or on medications or both, and they’re just not seeing an effect with traditional treatments. And, especially with medications, a lot of people have unwanted side effects or other ways in which they just don’t want to be on the medication,” said Chloe Sorensen, the clinical research supervisor for the innovation center and the CHILL’D study.

What the Study Will Explore

The CHILL’D study at Vail Health will expound on past research in hyperthermia and depression — including research done by Raison and Dr. Ashley Mason, who is a clinical psychologist at UC San Francisco, and who is a collaborator on the study.

Dr. Barry Sandler, an osteopathic physician and medical director at Vail Health Behavioral Health, is the main investigator for the study in Vail and will be on site for all administrations of the hot and cold therapy. Patients’ vitals are monitored throughout the treatments.

What Comes Next

With the research center getting rolling, it is expected to expand its research into other novel treatments for anxiety and depression. As it grows, the center is also expected to have dedicated space by next year within the Weigers Mental Health Clinic in Edwards.

“All of these sort of novel treatments are based very strongly in emerging science, but that are not widely used in mental health in America, which is still very much about giving people an antidepressant pill very often,” Raison said last June.

Read the full article on >

Share This