Yoga CAN help people with mental health disorders

Yoga CAN help people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia reduce their depressive symptoms, study shows 

  • Researchers reviewed 13 past studies into the effect of yoga on mental health
  • On average, the studies used 20–90 minute yoga sessions weekly for 2.5 months
  • Yoga has a moderately beneficial effect that increased with session frequency
  • The effects were most significant for those with depression and schizophrenia

Yoga can indeed help people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia reduce their depressive symptoms, a study has found.

Researchers from Australia reviewed 13 existing studies — involving a total of 632 participants — into the potential benefits of practising yoga.

The effects were most noticeable among those with depression and schizophrenia, the team reported — along with, to a lesser extent, alcohol misuse.

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Yoga can indeed help people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia reduce their depressive symptoms, a study has found

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with more than 264 million people living with the mental disorder, according to the World Health Organisation.

Depressive symptoms often appear alongside other mental health issues — such as generalised anxiety and psychotic disorders.

In their study, health scientist Jacinta Brinsley of the University of South Australia and colleague analysed previous, randomised controlled trials that explored the effects of yoga on a range of mental health disorders.

These including depression, generalised anxiety, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, panic disorders and substance misuse.

On average, each weekly yoga session in the studies lasted between 20–90 minutes and was repeated over a period of around two and a half months — and included breathing exercises, mindfulness and moving postures.

The movement component comprised more than half of each session, the researchers said.

Yoga was found to have a moderate effect in reducing depressive symptoms when compared with usual, no, or self-help treatments for depression.

The higher the number of weekly yoga sessions completed, the greater the effect on reducing depressive symptoms, the researchers said.

Yoga was found to have a moderate effect in reducing depressive symptoms when compared with usual, no, or self-help treatments for depression. The higher the number of weekly yoga sessions completed, the greater the effect on reducing depressive symptoms, the team said

‘Consideration of yoga as an evidence based exercise modality alongside conventional forms of exercise is warranted, given the positive results of this review,’ the team wrote.

‘Yoga may provide an additional or alternative strategy to engage people experiencing depression in meaningful physical activity.’

The full findings of the study were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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