May 19, 2017
1 min read

Yoga may improve persistent depression

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Individuals with persistent depression who participated in weekly hatha yoga for 10 weeks reported better outcomes than their peers who received health education only.

“We hypothesized that yoga participants would show lower depression severity over time as assessed by the Quick Inventory of Depression Symptomatology (QIDS), as well as better social and role functioning, better general health perceptions and physical functioning, and less physical pain relative to the control group,” Lisa Uebelacker, PhD, of Butler Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, said in a press release. “We found that yoga did indeed have an impact on depression symptoms.”

To assess efficacy of hatha yoga as an adjunctive intervention for treatment-resistant depressive symptoms, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial among individuals with increased depression symptoms and antidepressant medication use. Study participants were randomly assigned to receive weekly yoga classes (n = 63) or health education classes (n = 59) for 10 weeks. Follow-up assessments were conducted 3 and 6 months later.

At 10 weeks, depression symptoms did not statistically significantly differ between treatment groups, according to researchers.

However, participants who received yoga showed lower levels of depression over the entire intervention and follow-up period, when controlling for baseline (P = .02).

At the 6-month follow-up, 51% of participants who participated in yoga exhibited a response, as indicated by a 50% reduction in symptoms or more, compared with 31% of those who received health education.

Social and role functioning and general health perceptions over time were better among participants who participated in yoga.

“The purpose of this study was to examine whether hatha yoga is effective for treating depression when used in addition to antidepressant medication,” Uebelacker said in the release. “We did not see statistically significant differences between hatha yoga and a control group (health education) at 10 weeks, however, when we examined outcomes over a period of time including the 3 and 6 months after yoga classes ended, we found yoga was superior to health education in alleviating depression symptoms.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Uebelacker reports spousal employment at AbbVie. Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.