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Open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder

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A 24-year-old woman with symptoms of major depressive disorder and anxiety had been treated for the condition since the age of 17. Symptoms were resistant to fluoxetine and then citalopram. Following the birth of her daughter, she wanted to be medication-free and symptom-free. A programme of weekly open (cold) water swimming was trialled. This led to an immediate improvement in mood following each swim and a sustained and gradual reduction in symptoms of depression, and consequently a reduction in, and then cessation of, medication. On follow-up a year later, she remains medication-free.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Case Reports
Early online date21 Aug 2018
Publication statusEarly online - 21 Aug 2018


  • Open_water_swimming

    Rights statement: This article has been accepted for publication in BMJ Case Reports following peer review. The definitive copyedited, typeset version is available online at

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 188 KB, PDF document

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ID: 11399583