Researchers at Harvard University in Massachusetts and Columbia University in New York found in a study that yoga helps counteract the negative effects of depression. The physicians published the results of their study in the journal The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Yoga as a replacement for antidepressants?
Previous studies have already shown that yoga increases the production of serotonin. This is a so-called mood stabilizer in the brain, explain the experts. Yoga also helps with breathing, concentration and smooth movement. The results of the current study show why many doctors believe that yoga could even be a substitute for antidepressants.
Participants Participate in Yoga Courses for 12 Weeks
Participating in two to three yoga classes per week can help reduce depressive symptoms, the researchers explain. For the study, 30 subjects performed a 12-week exercise program. They did yoga and breathing exercises. The participants practiced the coherent breathing, in which one takes only five breaths per minute, explain the physicians. In addition, they took part in so-called Iyengar yoga classes. These focus particularly on precision and alignment in posture and breath control.
All participants suffered from depressive disorders
participants were divided into two groups, one group took part in three courses per week, the other attended a yoga class twice a week, the researchers say. All participants were previously diagnosed with a depressive disorder. The subjects either did not take antidepressants or they used the drug for a period of three months or less. The researchers found in their study that although the symptoms in both groups dropped significantly, the results for the participants of three yoga classes per week were better.
depression is the most prevalent mental disorder in the western world. Compared to the 1970s, the number of depression has increased tenfold today, experts say.
Treatment Usually Requires Therapy And Taking Medication
Effective treatment for depression may require expensive and time-consuming therapy, physicians explain. Often, drugs are used to control the disease. In the US alone, about 188 million antidepressant prescriptions are prescribed each year. However, up to 50 percent of those on antidepressant-treated depression do not achieve full response, the researchers add.
Treatment for depression is currently not effective enough
The current treatments for depression are not effective enough in reducing associated morbidity or mortality, say the authors. This supports the use of yoga-based interventions as an adjunct to the pharmacological treatment of depression, the experts explain. Such an intervention also has the advantage that side effects of drugs can be reduced or avoided altogether.
Yoga Increases the Levels of the Amino Acid GABA in the Body
studies have already compared the levels of the amino acid GABA in people who regularly practice yoga, with people walking about the same time period. This amino acid is crucial for a well-functioning brain and the central nervous system, say the physicians. When people took yoga classes, the levels of GABA were significantly increased. Low levels of GABA are associated with the onset of depression and anxiety, explain the researchers.
Sitting upright can help with depression
An independent study conducted by the University of Auckland in New Zealand in January also found that sitting in a straight and upright posture can help make people feel less depressed.(as)
It is well known that yoga can help with back pain. But yoga also seems to protect against the negative effects of mental illness. Researchers now found that practicing yoga can also help with depression.