Yoga for Depression: Does it Really Have an Impact?
We’ve all experienced days when we’ve felt really down. Conflict at home, work, or with friends are frequent culprits. Focusing too intently on the state of the world is certainly enough to land us in a significantly bad mood.
Feeling sad or low after a difficult day is common. And typically, this feeling goes away fairly quickly.
That isn’t the case if you suffer from depression. Depression can cause trouble sleeping, eating, or even working. For some, it feels debilitating and no matter what they try, it doesn’t help.
Depression is more common and more devastating than we think. It affects more than 300 million people globally, and it’s the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. People from all backgrounds suffer, and it doesn’t just affect people who have problems. Even people who always appear bubbly and enthusiastic on the surface may be suffering. Robin Williams is a recent example who suffered from this debilitating illness. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a disease and it requires treatment and resources, just like any other disease.
If you have depression and have sought medical attention, you might have been prescribed medication and possibly referred to a therapist. Unfortunately, these treatments don’t work for everyone. Doctors and scientists are searching for alternative therapy options. Yoga for depression is increasingly becoming considered as a hopeful option.
If you practice yoga, you’ve experienced the calming and soothing effects. Doing yoga can help clear your thoughts and restore energy.
Let’s take a closer look at what doctors and scientists have to say about yoga for depression.
How Does Yoga Reduce Depression?
There are several ways yoga is effective in reducing depression, according to scientists. One theory says that yoga changes the way our body reacts to stress. When we experience stress, our heart rate and blood pressure go up. Doing yoga lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, our stress level also dissipates.
Another theory suggests that yoga works by improving self-esteem. If you suffer from depression, often self-doubt and negative opinions and beliefs are a big part of it. Doing yoga can give you a sense of self-acceptance by practicing self-love. And when you enjoy doing something, good feelings rise to the surface.
Yoga allows the opportunity to achieve new skills that provide a sense of accomplishment.
The mindfulness aspect of yoga may also help with depression. By practicing mindfulness, you’ll become more observant when negative thoughts arise and catch them before you spiral down the abyss.
Can Yoga Help People Who Suffer from Depression?
The short answer is possibly. The evidence is still in the early days. Scientists have done several small studies with encouraging results. Several notable studies were presented at the 125th American Psychological Association Annual Convention last year.
For example, one study suggests that practicing yoga for two months lowered both depression level and stress among students with mild depression. Students in this study learned several yoga postures and focused on being present in a 30-minute class.
The idea of doing yoga to reduce depression symptoms has also attracted the US military’s interests. Veterans who participate in yoga classes have demonstrated lower depression symptoms, according to one study. The more classes these veterans attend, the better they reported feeling.
While more research is necessary to determine how beneficial yoga for depression is, the current reports are highly encouraging. The American Psychological Association recommends yoga as a complementary treatment for depression.
To sum it up, yoga is an alternative therapy that may help reduce depression. It may lower stress level, lift mood, boost self-esteem and improve optimism. If you are under a lot of stress, yoga may help you relax and reduce your anxiety.
Like any other therapy, yoga is not for everyone. Always consult with your doctor if your symptoms don’t get better or get worse. If you suffer from depression, check with your doctor before beginning your yoga practice as part of your therapy.
See how Yoga Helped One Woman with Depression
YogiYue, AKA Carol Santiago is featured in several of our videos, offering classes for free on our Youtube channel, including a yoga class on self-love. Watch her story below, where she explains how yoga became a transformative tool to help her cop with chronic depression and anxiety, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more great content.