Researchers have found that practicing yoga could help in many forms of mental disorders including depression.
This research has been published online in the journal Frontiers of Psychiatry.
Researchers in this study worked on 16 studies about the effects of yoga on mental illness such as depression, sleep problems, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Researchers have found 40% reduction in scores of depression after six months of weekly yoga sessions. On the other hand, the group of people who did not practice yoga and the group of people, who were on some form of complementary medicine such as Ayurveda, didn’t show significant changes in the scores of depression.
According to the study researcher Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, yoga, just like antidepressants and psychotherapy, positively affects the chemical messengers in the brain, inflammation in the body and other biological factors.
In another study, researchers have found improved sleep quality and reduction in the need for sleeping aids in many people after seven weeks of practicing yoga. These people were experiencing sleeplessness while undergoing chemotherapy. While the people in the other group, who were not practicing yoga, showed no improvement in sleep.
“If the promise of yoga on mental health was found in a drug, it would be the best selling medication world-wide,” Doraiswamy said in a statement.
However, in many of the studies, people practiced yoga in the form of groups resulting in difficulty to determine whether yoga is responsible for decline in depression or the social interaction. Moreover, yoga is found to treat mild depression in the studies and its effects on more severe forms of depression need to be studied.
Balasubramaniam, M., Telles, S., & Doraiswamy, P. (2013). Yoga on Our Minds: A Systematic Review of Yoga for Neuropsychiatric Disorders Frontiers in Psychiatry, 3 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2012.00117