How yoga can help adults with depression

Depression affects 15 million adults

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Depression affects 15 million adults during a given year. But now, a new way to treat depression may have some patients heading to a yoga studio. A first-of-its-kind study shows symptoms of depression improved significantly once patients committed to yoga just twice a week.

This isn’t just any “cobra” pose for Allison Mather. This is one of the poses that saved her life.

Mather said “The most important thing from the study was the breathing.”

Just a few years ago Mather was unemployed, grieving the end of a long relationship, and the deaths of three family members. In a tail spin and strapped for money, she volunteered for a study with an unconventional remedy, yoga.    

“It’s a life saver after a long week, if you don’t take that time for yourself to stretch and breathe; it makes a huge difference in the long run.” Mather continued.

In a groundbreaking US study using just yoga to treat major depression, researchers at UC San Francisco showed yoga not only works, it’s highly effective.

Sudha Prathikanti, MD, the Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Francisco said “Once the initial sequence of yoga therapy is learned properly, this is something you can do on your own.”

To get a clear picture of yoga’s impact, patients could not be in psychotherapy or taking anti-depressants.   Participants did yoga twice a week showing significant improvement in just two months.

“We had 60 percent remission rate in the yoga group. That was actually fairly surprising to us.” Dr. Prathikanti continued.

Doctors prescribe anti-depression meds that may have unwanted side effects. Talk therapy can be costly and is not always available, especially without insurance. As for yoga, find a quiet spot, and it’s free.

Though these results are promising, doctors add this is a small, pilot study and further research is needed. Noting safety concerns, patients with severe major depression were not included in this study.


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Contributors to this news report include: Tana Castro-Boysen, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Rusty Reed, Videographer.