Yoga a Powerful Aid Against Depression
Depression is the leading cause of disability on a global scale, with almost one million people taking their lives every year because of this condition. For some people, depression can be a lifetime battle. For others, it can arise when they are diagnosed with a disease like cancer, or while they are receiving treatments such as radiotherapy. Those who have depression know that this is one condition that is best treated from a multifaceted perspective. Psychotherapy, exercise, and good sleep can help soothe symptoms, but so can yoga - as a plethora of studies reveal.
Yoga as a Complement to Traditional Therapy
Research published by the American Psychological Association (APA) has found that yoga can be a powerful complement to traditional therapies for depression such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and targeted treatments. One study that attending hatha yoga classes twice a week for two months significantly lowers symptoms depression, while another revealed that heated yoga had the same effect. Yoga has also been found to lower anxiety and stress, which can be considered triggers for depression. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of yoga last for months after participants took part in yoga programs, with scientists concluding that this millenary practise is an ideal pursuit for patients “with chronic, treatment-resistant depression.”
Yoga and Depression-Related Conditions
There are numerous conditions that co-exist with depression, and many studies have shown that yoga can be of help. Just a few groups found to benefit from this mindful activity include pregnant women (yoga can help depressed new moms to be), cancer (yoga can reduce depression in women receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer), older adults, and stressed university students. Yoga can also help people facing antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), since a high percentage of people with this condition also have depression and/or anxiety. One recent study by scientists at the University of Oxford found that yoga can improve antisocial behavior, distress, aggression, and drug and alcohol abuse. Researchers concluded that yoga could be useful as a long-term way to manage antisocial and problematic behavior in prisoners both in jail and upon release into society.
What is the Secret of Yoga?
Researchers often point to yoga’s powerful ability to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol, and to instil a mindful mood; one in which participants keep their mind ‘in the here and now’, free of the weight of the past and worries about the future. In a 2010 study, researchers made quite an amazing discovery. They found that yoga has a more positive effect on mood and anxiety because it increases the level of GABA - a chemical in the brain that controls the fear or anxiety that arises when neurons are over-excited. In people with mood and anxiety issues, GABA activity is reduced. Yoga can therefore be seen as an important way to maintain a state of wellbeing and happiness.
If you are one of the millions aiming to lead a happy, active life despite having depression, yoga can be of help. Many studies have proven it has unique stress-busting and mood lifting benefits, without having any side-effects. The good news is that it is fast acting, so that after a few weeks you will definitely start noting the difference. Yoga is also a great opportunity to meet people who, like you, may be interested in the powerful connection between mind, body, and spirit.