Weekly sessions of yoga may help ease depressive symptoms in people with other mental health issues, proves a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research.
And the more weekly sessions completed, the greater the effects are likely to be, the findings show.
The research was published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 340 million people. And depressive symptoms often go hand in hand with other mental health issues, such as generalized anxiety and psychotic disorders, say the researchers.
Physical activity is now widely recommended to help ease the symptoms of depression, and the researchers wanted to know if yoga might also be helpful for people with a range of mental health issues.
They also wanted to know if yoga might have other benefits, such as improved exercise capacity, weight loss, better sleep, and better quality of life. They trawled research databases looking for randomized controlled trials published up to May 2019, which compared yoga with usual treatment; no current treatment; or self-help, to include books, health information, and the support of friends and family.
The found 19 relevant international clinical trials out of an initial haul of 80, involving 1080 adults with a range of mental health issues. These included depression; generalized anxiety; mood disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder; stress; psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia; panic disorders; and substance misuse.
Yoga practice involved a mixture of movement, breathing exercises, and/or mindfulness, but with the movement component comprising more than half of each session. Yoga types included hatha, vinyasa, SVYASA, kundalini and kripalu, with each weekly session lasting between 20 and 90 minutes over a period of around 2.5 months, on average.
The effects were most noticeable for depression and schizophrenia, and to some extent, for alcohol misuse.
Further analysis revealed that the higher the number of weekly yoga sessions completed, the greater was the effect on easing depressive symptoms.
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