Study: Yoga Promises Help for Depression

Depression rolls in like thick, coal-colored clouds, darkening our outlook and fogging our mind. Sometimes, lightning cracks of anxiety or downpours of grief accompany the gloom; other times, the grey haze simply hangs over us, subtly oppressing all feelings of joy.  
People looking for more than drugs to help with depression may take heart in a pilot study showing a potential new way to help combat depression: yoga therapy.

The study, due for publication in International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 2009, examined the effects of yoga therapist Amy Weintraub’s LifeForce Yoga for Depression. The study was led by Sat Bri Singh Khalsa, PhD., of Harvard, and it used two classical mood evaluation tests, Profile of Mood States Questionnaire (POMS) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to monitor the effects of yoga on depression.

The study looked at the mood scores of the 54 participants after two weeks of practicing yoga as therapy for depression and compared them with the participants’ mood scores before the LifeForce yoga practice. The results were significant: overall, participants experienced a 64% decrease in mood disturbance (including depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and more) according to the POMS, and a 53% reduction in depression according to the BDI.

Furthermore, 33 of those 54 participants filled out the questionnaires again, two months later. The results? Not only had the drops in both mood disturbance and depression been maintained, both scores for people using yoga as therapy for depression continued to creep down.

This indicates that the LifeForce Yoga for Depression program may offer help for depression and mood-related issues, and that those continuing to practice yoga to help with depression may experience deepening benefits, even without any further guidance or instruction.

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