of yoga in treating major depression evaluated
May 8, 2017
Care New England
New research indicates that the benefits of
hatha yoga in treating depression are less pronounced in early treatment, but
may accumulate over time.
When treating depression,
the goal is to help individuals achieve full recovery and normal functioning.
While traditional treatment such as medication or psychotherapy is effective
for many patients, some may not fully recover even with these treatments.
Researchers sought to determine if the addition of hatha yoga would improve
treatment outcomes for these patients. They found that the benefits of yoga
were less pronounced early in treatment, but may accumulate over time.
The research, entitled
“Adjunctive yoga v. health education for persistent major depression: a
randomized controlled trial,” has been published in Psychological
Medicine. The research was led by Lisa Uebelacker, PhD, a research
psychologist in the Psychosocial Research Department at Butler Hospital, a Care
New England hospital, and an associate professor of psychiatry and human
behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. The team also
included Gary Epstein-Lubow, MD; Ana M. Abrantes, PhD; Audrey Tyrka, MD, PhD;
Brandon A. Gaudiano, PhD; and Ivan W. Miller III, PhD, of Butler Hospital and
the Warren Alpert Medical School; Geoffrey Tremont, PhD and Tanya Tran of Rhode
Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School; Tom Gillette of Eyes of
the World Yoga; and David Strong of the University of California, San Diego.
“The purpose of this
study was to examine whether hatha yoga is effective for treating depression
when used in addition to antidepressant medication,” explained Dr.
Uebelacker. “We did not see statistically significant differences between
hatha yoga and a control group (health education) at 10 weeks, however, when we
examined outcomes over a period of time including the three and six months
after yoga classes ended, we found yoga was superior to health education in
alleviating depression symptoms.”
According to Dr.
Uebelacker, this is the largest study of yoga for depression to date. The team
enrolled individuals with current or recent major depression who were receiving
antidepressant medication and continued to have clinically significant
depression symptoms. Participants were randomized into two groups — those who
participated in a hatha yoga class and a control group who took part in a
health education class. The intervention phase lasted 10 weeks and participants
were followed for six months afterward.
that yoga participants would show lower depression severity over time as
assessed by the Quick Inventory of Depression Symptomatology (QIDS), as well as
better social and role functioning, better general health perceptions and
physical functioning, and less physical pain relative to the control
group,” said Dr. Uebelacker. “We found that yoga did indeed have an
impact on depression symptoms.”
1. L. A. Uebelacker, G.
Tremont, L. T. Gillette, G. Epstein-Lubow, D. R. Strong, A. M. Abrantes, A. R.
Tyrka, T. Tran, B. A. Gaudiano, I. W. Miller. Adjunctive yoga v. health
education for persistent major depression: a randomized controlled trial. Psychological
Medicine, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291717000575