Will pranayama help reduce depression?
Yoga Relieves Depression
Yoga Intervention Could Relieve Depression
Unfortunately, antidepressant medications not only cause a number of significant side effects, but 40% of people with major depressive disorder, which is treated with antidepressants, do not achieve a complete remission.’
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In a clinical trial evaluation, the researchers found that 34% of participants did not achieve complete remission when they decided to change antidepressant medications.
In a recent study, researchers studied the effect of Iyengar yoga classes on participants who suffered from depression. The study divided into two groups of 30 people, between the ages of 18 and 64.
Both groups were composed of people who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, I either did not take medication, or they had taken the same medication for three months.
One group was assigned to take a 90-minute yoga class three times a week, in addition to a 30-minute session at home, four times a week. The second group participated in two 90-minute classes and three 30-minute sessions at home.
After three months, both groups experienced a lower amount of symptoms, at least 50%, no differences in compliance.
Not surprisingly, the group that participated seven days a week experienced a greater reduction in symptoms. Many of the participants mentioned that having a commitment to invest more time was challenging, which influenced the researchers to recommend two classes each week.
According to Dr. Chris Streeter – author of the study, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine – yoga has the advantage of avoiding the side effects of medication treatments. He commented:
” While most drug treatments to address depression focus on monoamine systems, such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, this intervention is focused on the parasympathetic system and gamma-aminobutyric acid, and offers a new way of treatment “.
The Benefits of Yoga in the Treatment of Depression
In this study, the researchers recommended that participants use a specific form of yoga that focuses on the details and an accurate alignment of posture combined with deep breathing.
Previous studies where other forms of yoga were used to treat depression have had positive results. Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reviewed the findings and commented:
” The mechanism of action is similar to other exercise techniques that activate the release of brain chemicals from ‘feel good’ … [and could] decrease the amount of chemicals, in the immune system, that could worsen the depression.
It has been shown that ‘conscious’ movement – conscious perception – has a much more beneficial impact on the central nervous system. “
The results of the present study corroborate the findings of a study conducted in 2016 by the University of Pennsylvania, in which researchers found that participants suffering from depression experienced significant relief in using yoga. The patients in that study had an inadequate response to antidepressant medications.
One of the objectives of the Boston University study was to identify the “dose-response relationship”, and to develop a standard with which future studies could be established to evaluate the efficacy of incorporating yoga and other types of controlled breathingexercises within of treatment protocols for depression.
Major Depressive Disorder May Have Serious Consequences
Often, many people with depression do not see a doctor or seek help to confirm their illness and receive treatment.
This may be the result of societal pressure to deny mental health problems, or it may be the result of inefficient access to health care services. When depression is not treated, it could be debilitating and possibly fatal.
Depression could interfere with personal and work relationships, decrease work or academic performance and could also affect physical health.
Depression decreases your ability to take proper care of yourself and make appropriate decisions about your health, including food and sleep. Imbalances in diet, weight fluctuations and poor sleep habits could compromise immune function.
Specific diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, are linked to an increased risk of major depressive disorder. In addition, depression could lead to medication or alcohol abuse.
Up to 70% of people who commit suicide are clinically depressed, and it is estimated that more than 90% of people who have suicidal thoughts experience a combination of depression and substance abuse. Yoga focuses on providing harmony between the mind and the body.
It is believed that the origin of yoga dates back to the appearance of many other belief systems. Currently, it is commonly used as a form of therapy or exercise to achieve better health and fitness.
Yoga has spread all over the world through the teachings of yoga teachers and personalities, including Iyengar yoga.
In the United States, 16 million people practice yoga every year. The principles of all yoga practices include relaxation, breathing, feeding, exercise and meditation, to which people turn to help reduce stress, improve their physical condition and obtain clarity.
There are several different types of yoga and within each of them, teachers could identify with a style, tradition or lineage.
Decreasing Stress is Important to Address Depression
Stress has an impact on your mental and physical health. For example, a study conducted by the Massachusetts General Institute of Technology found that patients who regularly tried to relax and achieve a relaxation response used the health care service system by 43% less.
The researchers found that people suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, neurological diseases, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders decreased their incidence more dramatically.
The researchers used a group of more than 4,400 patients, who examined over a period of two years. They compared them against more than 13,000 people who did not participate in the Relaxation Response Resilience Program. Relaxation and a reduced response to stress improved the health of the participants.
In some people, chronic stress could trigger depression, and in others, resilience. One study found that 20% of mice were depressed and repeatedly exposed to stress.
Mice that suffered greater depression also had greater activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. Mice that did not have depressive symptoms also did not have brain changes.
This study is based on previous studies, which show that stress is related to depression. Initially, stress has a direct effect on your mood and sleep habits, which could cause cognitive changes, such as a lower level of concentration. However, the indirect effects are those that could trigger depression.
These indirect effects could include an alteration in healthy coping strategies, relationship disorders, which could have provided support, having unhealthy coping strategies such as alcohol or medication, and altering routines.
Decreasing stress levels through doing deep breathing exercises and yoga could have a significant impact on preventing depressive symptoms.
Yoga has a history of improving mental and physical health
Practicing yoga improves both physical and mental health. Previous studies have shown that yoga improves back pain, flexibility and strength of the core zone , and without side effects or interactions with other medications. Yoga has also had limited success in controlling symptoms related to cancer.
With the practice of yoga – apart from increasing the strength of the core area and flexibility – the greatest improvements are observed in having lower levels of stress, anxiety and better mood.
Research has linked these improvements with changes in the levels of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. GABA is responsible for blocking nerve impulses, by signaling adjacent nerve cells not to “shoot” or send an impulse.
Without GABA their nerve cells would emit impulses easily and frequently, which would cause anxiety disorders, seizures and conditions such as addiction, headaches and cognitive deterioration.
Research has associated the practice of yoga with higher thalamic levels of GABA. They discovered that using yoga postures would create a positive correlation between high GABA levels, mood improvements and lower levels of anxiety. And they concluded that:
“Given that pharmacological agents that increase the activity of the GABA system are prescribed to improve mood and decrease anxiety, the correlations reported are expected.
The possible role of GABA in mediating the beneficial effects of yoga, in mood and anxiety, deserves an additional study . “
Improvements in the response to stress, elevated mood and function and a possible role in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder are also attributed, through scientific study, to the use of yoga postures and breathing.
In addition, yoga made a significant difference in the depression of people who were addicted and performed a rehabilitation.
Recommendations for Overcoming Depression with Yoga and Other Mind-Body Techniques
Addressing the issue of clinical depression is fundamental to health. Although, the medications could diminish the immediate sadness for a short period of time, the side effects and insufficient long-term results make choosing natural options a much better option for health and well-being.
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