Yoga is a great way to treat symptoms of depression, as it works to calm the mind, body, and spirit. Whether you have mild depressive symptoms or you’ve been battling major depressive disorder for many years, you can use yoga to ease your mind and resolve harmful feelings.
For many people, depression is linked to addiction, mental health issues, and other important concerns that require careful treatment and consideration. This is often because when you’re depressed, you’re likely searching for a way out of negative emotions, a way to feel something again. Substances temporarily numb the pains of depression, loneliness, and purposelessness, but they leave more hurt than healing in the long run.
If you can identify the early signs of mental health issues such as depression, you can create an action plan to deal with those feelings and create a process for healing. One such path to healing is yoga. If you’re new to yoga, look at this as a chance to learn about yourself and explore new, holistic ways of healing. And if you’ve practiced yoga before, we encourage you to find your path to overcoming depression by practicing techniques you’re familiar with as well as trying new methods.
What Research Says About Yoga and Depression
A group of researchers looked into the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment method for depression. They looked at multiple types of yoga, including Hatha, integrated yoga, Kirtan Kriya, mindfulness-based meditation with yoga, Tai chi with yoga, and Viniyoga.
In almost every case, the overwhelming result was that yoga is effective in managing depression and reducing depressive symptoms. The researchers tested this with several different groups, including pregnant women, people with addictions, and those with chronic back pain, all of whom reported lower symptoms of depression after simple yoga exercises.
The study found that one type of yoga was not more effective than the other, meaning you can choose a technique that works for you! If one type of yoga is not your style, try others until you discover what works with your body.
Studies have also found that yoga releases anti-depressant and anti-anxiety hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Yoga decreases the secretion of hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine, consequently reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The Benefits of Yoga As Treatment for Depression
There are so many ways that yoga can improve your mind and body’s health, especially if you’re dealing with deeper issues of depression and mental illness. Keep reading to learn why yoga is effective in treating depression.
- Yoga Relieves Stress
Because depression and stress are closely connected, learning to manage depression means you first need to find healthy ways to cope with stress. Many studies over the years have looked into the stress-relieving properties of yoga.
For example, one study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that when stress is perceived as uncontrollable, a person will experience behavioral deficits known as “learned helplessness”. In these situations, a person will often give up and not attempt to control that stressor, even if it is possible to control. This is what typically causes depression, and it creates a certain cycle: depression as a result of stress, and stress as a result of depression.
Breaking this cycle, researchers found, involves coping with stress. Yoga is one practical and proven method that can be used to modify stress responses and reduce depression.
- Yoga Is an Alternative Treatment
There is value in alternative methods of treatment for people who are less comfortable with traditional, medicated treatments. If you have tried therapy and find that you don’t get much out of the experience, this is an alternative method you can use. And if you’re wary of medicating yourself for depression, you’re not alone. Many people worry about the side effects of such medications, and yoga is a drug-free alternative.
If you are open to therapy and medication, yoga can also be a complementary tool in your treatment process to work with those things.
- Yoga Is a Low-Cost Option
If you can teach yourself a few simple practices, this can be a free or low-cost option for depression management. Going to therapy and paying for medication can be costly, but yoga doesn’t have to be. You can manage your depression right from the comfort of your living room.
At-home yoga can help you to:
- relieve stress
- exercise your mind and body
- replace unhealthy habits with something physically and mentally healthy
- stabilize your nervous system
- overcome addiction and behavioral issues
Begin the Path to Healing from Depression
If you’ve been living with depression and you’re looking for a way to break free from it, try incorporating yoga into your daily routine. You can start with simple exercises and work your way up to more intensive yoga sessions. With yoga, you can start regaining control over your stress and depression, giving you a happier, healthier way of life.