Frontiers publishes systematic review on the effects of yoga on major psychiatric disorders

January 25, 2013, Frontiers

Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication, according to a systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders.

Published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry, on January 25th, 2013, the review of more than one hundred studies focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of on depression, , ADHD, sleep complaints, and cognition problems.

Yoga in popular culture

Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the United States alone, according to a survey by the Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in .

"However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype," wrote the authors in their study. "Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise."

Benefits of the exercise were found for all mental health illnesses included in the review, except for eating disorders and cognition problems as the evidence for these was conflicting or lacking.

Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, US, and author of the study, explained that the emerging scientific evidence in support of the 5,000 year old Indian practice on is "highly promising" and showed that yoga may not only help to improve symptoms, but also may have an ancillary role in the prevention of stress-related .

The review found evidence from biomarker studies showing that yoga influences key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health in similar ways to that of antidepressants and . One study found that the exercise affects neurotransmitters, inflammation, oxidative stress, lipids, growth factors and second messengers.

Unmet need among mental health patients

Depression alone affects more than 350 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). On World Mental Health Day last year, the WHO called for improved access to treatments.

While there has been an increase in the number of medications available for mental health disorders, many of which can be life saving for patients, there remains "a considerable unmet need," according to Dr. Meera Balasubramaniam, lead author of the study, who is also based at Duke University, US.

Poor compliance and relapse as well as treatment resistance are growing problems, and medications are expensive and can leave patients with significant side effects.

The Primary Care study, carried out by WHO, found that 60% of patients were still depressed after a year of being treated with an anti-depressant and a National Institute of Mental Health funded research showed remission in only one-third of patients.

"The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance and we call for more research into yoga as a global priority," said Doraiswamy. "If the promise of yoga on mental health was found in a drug, it would be the best selling medication world-wide," he added.

There are many benefits associated with practicing yoga for improving mental health, including, fewer side effects, relatively low cost, generally good access and the improvement of physical fitness, added the authors.

The authors also note that while the results are promising, the findings should be viewed as preliminary because all studies of yoga to date have consisted of small samples, and more rigorous research will be needed before the exercise can be applied to help patients with disorders.

Explore further: Yoga proves to reduce depression in pregnant women, boost maternal bonding

More information: Yoga on our Minds: A Systematic Review of Yoga for Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Authors: Meera Balasubramaniam, Shirley Telles and P. Murali Doraiswamy. Front. Psychiatry, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2012.00117

Related Stories

Yoga proves to reduce depression in pregnant women, boost maternal bonding

August 8, 2012
It's no secret that pregnancy hormones can dampen moods, but for some expectant moms, it's much worse: 1 in 5 experience major depression.

Studies show siginificant benefits of yoga in 2 conditions

May 26, 2011
Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis who practice yoga showed statistically significant improvements in disease activity, according to a small study presented today at the EULAR 2011 Annual Congress.

Right amount of exercise can boost mental health: study

October 26, 2012
(HealthDay)—People who exercise 2.5 to 7.5 hours a week have better mental health, but more than that is associated with poorer mental health, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

Study listens in on speech development in early childhood

January 15, 2018
If you've ever listened in on two toddlers at play, you might have wondered how much of their babbling might get lost in translation. A new study from the University of Toronto provides surprising insights into how much children ...

Study suggests people dislike you more for humblebragging than for regular boasting

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers from Harvard University and UNC-Chapel Hill has conducted a study regarding humblebragging—in which a person boasts about an achievement but tries to make it sound less boastful by minimizing it—and ...

Study identifies brain circuit controlling social behavior

January 11, 2018
A new study by researchers at Roche in Basel, Switzerland has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior. Increasing the activity of this region, called the habenula, led to social problems ...

Can writing your 'to-do's' help you to doze? Study suggests jotting down tasks can speed the trip to dreamland

January 11, 2018
Writing a "to-do" list at bedtime may aid in falling asleep, according to a Baylor University study. Research compared sleep patterns of participants who took five minutes to write down upcoming duties versus participants ...

Tamper-resistant oxycodone tablets have no impact on overall opioid use

January 11, 2018
The introduction of tamper-resistant opioid tablets does not have an effect on rates of opioid use or harms at a population level, according to a new study led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.