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RSSYoga: alternative treatment for depression

Posted on Tue, 13 Jun 17

Yoga: alternative treatment for depression

A rigorous study investigating yoga as an alternative to drug treatment of major depression has found it could be a viable option.

Major depression is a disabling medical condition that affects up to 7% of adults throughout their lifetime. Treatment with anti-depressant drugs, however, often does not result in remission or a significantly better reduction in clinical symptoms than placebo and yet has significantly more side-effects [1].

Alternative treatments with a better risk-benefit ratio for depression are needed and one such promising treatment is yoga. Several previous studies have suggested yoga can improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms but few studies have examined the potential benefits of yoga in men and women diagnosed with major depressive disorder. 

In a new 8-week clinical trial, men and women with major depression of mild-to-moderate severity participated in a yoga program consisting of two 90-minute hatha yoga session each week. Compared to the control group, the yoga program resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity [2].

Importantly, this is the first such study to assess yoga a mono-therapy for the treatment of major depression in men and women in a North American population. 

“This project was inspired by the need for rigorous evaluation of hatha yoga as a potential mono-therapy for individuals with mild-to-moderate major depression, a population for whom conventional care may offer uncertain benefit,” said the study authors.  

“With the rising popularity of yoga in western countries, yoga-based interventions with proven efficacy in major depression may provide a treatment option that is cost-effective, widely accessible, associated with high social acceptance, and has a favorable risk-benefit profile.”


  1. Bschor T, Kilarski LL. Are antidepressants effective? A debate on their efficacy for the treatment of major depression in adults. Expert Rev Neurother. 2016;16: 367–374.
  2. Prathikanti S, Rivera R, Cochran A, et al. Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot  trial. PLoS One. 2017 Mar 16;12(3):e0173869.

Tags: Yoga, Depression

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