Health condition: Severe Depression, Insomnia and Anxiety Disorder

Age of participant: 33

Gender of participant: Male

Situation:

For my case study I would like to discuss a person who has attended my WHM workshop in an attempt to help cure his severe depression, insomnia and anxiety disorder.

Subject is a 33 year old male who has been in overall good physical condition and whose only health concern was depression, insomnia and anxiety. The person has not enrolled into the Wim Hof Method workshop through the WHM Platform as he was too scared to commit himself to do so in a formal way. Instead, he has called me on my mobile phone and left a message on my voicemail, saying that he would probably be interested in attending the nearest workshop of mine, asking to return his call.

I normally do not get calls redirected to voicemail and I rarely use the facility so the earliest I returned his phone call was on the following day. He explained to me that he had depression and anxiety, and that he had not slept properly for 4 months. Then he went on, saying that he had to find a working way to cure this quickly because he could not live any longer like that. He asked a number of questions, expressing his concerns about whether the Wim Hof Method would actually work for him. He asked if there would be an actual ice bath involved during the workshop and when I confirmed, he only said ‘Fuck’ (!)

The person was scared about his life’s whereabouts, equally scared about whether any method would work for him, and scared very much about being in an ice bath. Hence, although he mentioned he would probably come and join my WHM workshop, I was not fully convinced he would turn up.

My WHM workshop groups are usually small, of about 2-5 people, and this one was no different. My dining room is traditionally the place where all the participants wait, sipping tea or coffee, until we have all of the anticipated number of people. This time I also explained to the three persons waiting that there might be another participant, who has got a condition, which was depression and anxiety. Normally, my workshop attendees are seeking improvement in their athletic performance and the waiting group was the same, hence my explanation was for them to understand that the person to come had completely different expectations and might require a different approach.

The last participant and the subject of this study was late by a few minutes but the positive thing was that he had already overcome some of his fears, quite possibly to tackle his other troubling fears, though.

Having introduced himself, he went on to state his reasons behind participating in the WHM workshop, virtually reiterating my own words a few minutes before. He still looked worried but being in a group made him feel braver and more confident.

After the introduction we moved into my yoga studio and started the workshop, as planned. After diaphragmatic breathing exercises and my Kriya Yoga, Tai Chi and HIIT warm-up, we continued with 1 round of WHM breathing. This usually is the testing round, followed by 4 consecutive rounds with meditative music in the background. I observed the subject very closely and he was trying to do every single exercise to his best abilities, clearly trying to tackle his conditions he would like to be cured.

The Q&A session after the WHM breathing did not reveal anything spectacular, although everybody felt very relaxed and meditative. The subject seemed to be relaxed, as well, although less than the other three people.

We broke for lunch during which I provided my WHM presentation. He listened carefully but I also observed that his behaviour slowly started to become a bit more tense, especially when I talked about cold exposure. He probably knew that it was the only way to help him but was also afraid of the pain associated with the contact with ice cold water.

After the lunch and presentation, the time was ripe to start preparation for the ice bath, therefore everybody got changed and with towels in hands we went outside to face the ice bath. We do normally a horse stance exercise for about 5 minutes, after which I prepare the ice to add to the cold water while the group continues the horse stance for another 5 minutes. I observed the subject and, whilst being a bit nervous, he wanted to get on with it as soon as possible! He was determined! So he was the first to take the ice bath and I let him stay for 2 minutes and do the head under, as well. He seemed much calmer after and when others entered the ice bath, his horse stance was much more focused. I said that whoever wanted to go for the second time was more than welcome and explained that it might feel colder that time. Everybody wanted and, again, the subject was the first one to enter. His eyes were closed and he started to feel the effects of hormonal changes, he seemed to have started to unite, to meditate. And, after that he did horse stance, waited for the others to finish, and went on to take the ice bath for the third time! And for the fourth time, soon afterwards! I gathered he was so determined to get his conditions cured that he wanted to be sure the ice bath would work 100 percent for him!

We had tea and coffee directly after the ice bath and finished the workshop in a great atmosphere, as usual. Everybody left home and I felt much less concerned about the subject.

Next day, as I did not have his email address, I sent him a text message, asking whether there have been any improvement in his condition, if he managed to sleep well through the night and his response was that he had slept much better but asked me whether we could do another ice bath session in 10 days. I asked whether he continued with cold showers and his response was positive, so I said he would probably not need any further sessions but, if it was the case, I was prepared to organise it for him. In the meantime I also had other workshop participants asking for his condition, so some form of bonding within the group must have formed, and an honest care about others within the group—a very positive effect, indeed! Needless to say, there was no need for a follow-up ice baths for the subject and his testimony after a week was as follows:

Hi Piotr,

I would like to thank you for all your support and help before, during and after the WHM workshop. It has been really great to participate in your workshop.”

He also explained that since the WHM workshop his sleeping pattern has improved dramatically. He was able to sleep through the night without interruptions. He also felt less worried about himself and much calmer and positive towards what future would bring to him.

CONCLUSION: The Wim Hof Method can be a great tool for people seeking help in tackling depression, anxiety and insomnia, and to recover from that condition in a very efficient and timely way.

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