A depressed man believes he has cured himself by taking a daily dip in icy water.
Mitchell Bock, from Caerphilly, Wales, is now slowly coming off antidepressants.
And he has already stopped his anti-anxiety medication.
The 30-year-old said of the benefits of ice-cold water dips: “I think of it as trading a whole day’s discomfort for a few minutes. You look fantastic. It’s really an instant thing.’
Mr. Bock has battled major depression, anxiety, and anxiety for the past 10 years.
Mitchell Bock (pictured swimming in cold water), 30, suffered from severe depression, anxiety and anxiety for years, which led him to attempt suicide last year
Mr Bock (pictured taking an ice bath) has stopped taking his medication because he believes daily immersions in ice cold water work just as well
The finance officer’s travails led to a suicide attempt last year.
He was hospitalized by a crisis team and discharged after 13 hours with a single follow-up interview, which he described as a ‘tick-off exercise’.
Feeling let down by his aftercare, Mr Bock felt ‘hopeless’ and began looking at alternative treatments with his mother Melanie Aldridge, 50.
Mr Bock said, ‘It was kind of where do I go from here. When I went to the hospital I thought at least I would get help.’
Weeks after his suicide attempt, Mr. Bock’s mother sent him an ice bath designed to trap the cold.
Mr. Bock started taking it right away and claimed that he started feeling the effects within a few days.
“When I first did it, I remember waking up without the usual feeling of dread,” he said.
“It was like going to bed with the flu and waking up completely healed.”
He now tries to take an ice bath or a cold shower every day and sometimes instead goes wild swimming in ice cold water.
The coldest bath he has taken was at zero degrees, surrounded by snow.
Mr. Bock is so confident in the effects of the ice water therapy that he has stopped taking his anti-anxiety medication and attending regular therapy sessions.
He said, “I’ve been on medication and going to therapy for years. Every time I’ve called the doctors it’s been a short conversation and they told me to increase my meds.
“I started tapering off one of my medications and stopped it altogether. I’m so confident in how I feel.”
Mr Bock (pictured taking an ice bath), from Caerphilly, began exploring ice water therapy after being released from hospital, saying he was disappointed with the care he was receiving and feeling ‘hopeless’
Mr. Bock tries to take an ice bath every day, take a cold shower and sometimes instead goes wild swimming in icy water (pictured)
The coldest bath the finance officer has ever taken was at zero degrees, surrounded by snow
Mr Bock added: ‘I don’t find it uncomfortable anymore. At first, your body panics. You feel tingling and your heart races, but once you get your breathing under control you’re fine.’
Ice baths have been proven to have physical health benefits, which is why sports stars such as Usain Bolt and Andy Murray are known to use them.
But research also suggests that ice water therapy is good for your mental health, too.
Researchers at Bournemouth University said in February that a brain scan was proof of this.
The MRI image – taken of a volunteer who was asked to dip into a 20C (68F) bath for five minutes – showed changes in small areas of the brain that are interconnected.
The results, published in the journal Biologyshowed increased connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex – indicated by red spots on the scans.
These parts of the brain are involved in maintaining attention, aiding decision making, and controlling emotions.
In addition, experts believe that the shock of cold that comes from outdoor swimming can increase dopamine levels and the release of endorphins — feel-good hormones — in the brain.
Essential advice BEFORE taking the plunge
1. Never swim alone. Always take someone with you so you can look out for each other.
2. When swimming in the sea, choose beaches with lifeguards and pay attention to the flag warning system.
3. Check the water quality – does it look clean? Is it free of blue-green algae and other obvious warning signs? Waterways near urban areas are especially likely to contain harmful bacteria.
4. Wear the right equipment: swim shoes to protect your feet from rocks, a wetsuit if it’s cold and make yourself visible with a brightly colored swimming cap.
5. Plan your departure point before entering the water and try not to stay in the water too long, especially when it is cold. Know your limits.
6. Use a towing float for buoyancy.
7. Pack warm clothes for afterwards and keep moving to warm up.
8. Watch out for strong currents and sudden changes in depth.
9. Never jump in without acclimatizing to the water temperature and check the landing area.
10. Swim where others swim, but avoid areas with many boats or water sports.