Hatha Yoga for Depression: Critical Review of the Evidence for Efficacy, Plausible Mechanisms of Action, and Directions for Future Research

Brown University School of Medicine and Butler Hospital 345 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence, RI 02906, USA.
Journal of psychiatric practice 01/2010; 16(1):22-33. DOI: 10.1097/01.pra.0000367775.88388.96
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this article is to review the evidence for the efficacy of hatha yoga for depression and possible mechanisms by which yoga may have an impact on depression, and to outline directions for future research.
Literature review and synthesis.
A literature search for clinical trials examining yoga for depression uncovered eight trials: 5 including individuals with clinical depression, and 3 for individuals with elevated depression symptoms. Although results from these trials are encouraging, they should be viewed as very preliminary because the trials, as a group, suffered from substantial methodological limitations. We would argue, however, that there are several reasons to consider constructing careful research on yoga for depression. First, current strategies for treating depression are not sufficient for many individuals, and patients have several concerns about existing treatments. Yoga may be an attractive alternative to or a good way to augment current depression treatment strategies. Second, aspects of yoga-including mindfulness promotion and exercise-are thought to be "active ingredients" of other successful treatments for depression. Third, there are plausible biological, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms by which yoga may have an impact on depression. We provide suggestions for the next steps in the study of yoga as a treatment for depression.

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    • "En otras palabras, consideramos que no sería recomendable concluir que estas intervenciones no tienen un efecto sobre la sintomatología depresiva. De hecho, su efecto sí que ha sido ampliamente reportado en población clínica (Hofmann et al., 2010; Louie, 2014; Uebelacker et al., 2010), por lo que sería conveniente en un futuro replicar el estudio pero con estudiantes que manifiesten este tipo de problemas. En síntesis, los tres procedimientos han sido efectivos para algunos problemas, los dos que manejan un control postural (taichí y yoga) para los niveles puntuales de ansiedad. "
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    ABSTRACT: Efecto de intervenciones mente/cuerpo sobre los niveles de ansiedad, estrés y depresión en futuros docentes de educación primaria: Un estudio controlado Resumen En el presente estudio se compara el efecto de tres programas mente/cuerpo que gozan de amplia popularidad en la actualidad, como son Mindfulness, Taichí y Yoga, en el estrés, ansiedad y depresión de una muestra de estudiantes universitarios. En concreto, tomaron parte de la presente investigación 282 estudiantes de Magisterio que, como profesionales, estarán sometidos a altos niveles de estrés, y como alumnos y alumnas, sufren niveles preocupantes de ansiedad en los periodos de examen. Se asignaron aleatoriamente 85 alumnos y alumnas al grupo de Yoga, 68 al grupo de Taichí, 84 al grupo de Mindfulness y 45 al grupo control. Taichí y yoga redujeron significativamente la ansiedad, mientras que Mindfulness el estrés; no obstante, los tres programas fueron efectivos en la reducción del malestar psicológico en comparación con el grupo control. En salud mental general Mindfulness ofreció un mayor efecto. El grupo control no experimentó ningún cambio significativo en las variables evaluadas e incluso hubo un empeoramiento en el postest realizado previamente al periodo de exámenes. Abstract The present study compares the effects of three mind/body programs on stress, anxiety and depression among a sampling of university students. These three programs, which are currently experiencing great popularity, are Mindfulness, Tai Chi and Yoga. 282 undergraduate teaching students participated in this research. They were chosen as candidates because, in the future, as working professionals they will be exposed to high levels of stress and, at present, as students they suffer high levels of anxiety during exam periods. 85 students were randomly assigned to a Yoga group, 68 to a Tai Chi group, 84 to a Mindfulness group, and 45 comprised the control group. Tai Chi and Yoga significantly reduced anxiety, while Mindfulness had the same effect on stress; nevertheless, all three programs proved effective in the reduction of psychological malaise in comparison with the control group. In terms of general mental health, Mindfulness produced greater overall effects. The control group did not experience any significant changes in relation to the variables evaluated, and the levels of said variables even worsened according to the post-test conducted prior to the exam period.
    Revista de Psicodidáctica 01/2016; 21(1). DOI:10.1387/RevPsicodidact.13256 · 2.67 Impact Factor
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    • "Recent trials have demonstrated that yoga practice is associated with numerous health benefits and can be effectively employed as an adjunctive treatment for chronic illness (Aljasir, Bryson, & Al-shehri, 2010; Culos-Reed et al., 2012; Posadzki & Ernst, 2011). Furthermore, evidence suggests that yoga may help to reduce anxiety and depression (Kirkwood, Rampes, Tuffrey, Richardson, & Pilkington, 2005; Uebelacker et al., 2010). These findings are encouraging, especially considering that yoga has grown increasingly popular in the United States as an approach to enhancing physical fitness and mental well-being (Khalsa, 2007; Smith, Hancock, Blake-Mortimer, & Eckert, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study tested whether distress tolerance, body image, and body mass index (BMI) predicted adherence to a yoga intervention. Participants were 27 women who participated in a yoga intervention as part of a randomized controlled trial. Attendance and distress tolerance were assessed weekly, and body image and BMI were measured at baseline. Multilevel modeling revealed a three-way interaction of distress tolerance, BMI, and body image (p < .001). For participants with few body image concerns, distress tolerance was positively associated with adherence regardless of BMI (p = .009). However, for those with poor body image, increases in distress tolerance were associated with increases in adherence among overweight participants (p < .001) but lower adherence among obese participants (p = .007). Distress tolerance may be implicated in adherence to a yoga intervention, although its effects may be dependent on body image concerns, BMI, and their interaction. Research and clinical implications are discussed.
    Behavior modification 11/2015; DOI:10.1177/0145445515612401 · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Although the mechanisms by which yoga and meditation assist in dealing with the symptoms of mental health problems are not fully understood, there are underlying principles that appear pertinent. For instance, mindfulness is a concept originating in Buddhist practice (Shonin et al., 2013) but is incorporated into yoga teachings through the emphasis on awareness of each action and moment (Uebelacker et al., 2010). Mindfulness teaches individuals to better understand and cope with their thoughts and feelings and as such has been successfully incorporated into cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programs (Tang et al., 2007), including some prison-based offending behaviour courses (Howells, Tennant, Day, & Elmer, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: This article presents results from a systematic review and two meta-analyses that examine whether prison yoga and meditation programs are significantly related to increased psychological well-being and improvements in the behavioural functioning of prisoners. Comprehensive searches of the empirical literature were conducted up to December 2014. Participants who completed yoga or meditation program in prison experienced a small increase in their psychological well-being (Cohen's d = 0.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.39, 0.54]) and a small improvement in their behavioural functioning (Cohen's d = 0.30, 95% CI = [0.20, 0.40]). Moderator analyses suggested that there was a significant difference in effect sizes for programs of longer duration and less intensity, compared with those that were shorter and more intensive, for psychological well-being. Programs of longer duration had a slightly larger positive effect on behavioural functioning (d = 0.424), compared with more intensive programs (d = 0.418). Overall, the evidence suggests that yoga and meditation have favourable effects on prisoners. © The Author(s) 2015.
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