Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Positive Antidepressant Effects of Generic Yoga in Depressive Out-Patients: A Comparative Study

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Positive Antidepressant Effects of Generic Yoga in Depressive Out-Patients: A Comparative Study

Article excerpt

Byline: B. Gangadhar, G. Naveen, M. Rao, J. Thirthalli, S. Varambally

Context: Therapeutic effects in depression of yoga adopted from different schools have been demonstrated. The efficacy of a generic module of yoga on depressed patients has not yet been tested in the literature. Aims: The study was aimed to compare the therapeutic effect of a generic yoga module with antidepressant drugs in non-suicidal out-patients of major depression attending a psychiatric hospital. Settings and Design: The study was outpatient-based using an open-labeled design. Materials and Methods: A total of 137 out-patients of depressive disorders received one of the three treatments as they chose - yoga-only, drugs-only or both. The yoga was taught by a trained yoga physician for over a month in spaced sessions totaling at least 12. Patients were assessed before treatment, after 1 and 3 months on depression and Clinical Global Impression Scales. Out of 137, 58 patients completed the study period with all assessments. Results: Patients in the three arms of treatment were comparable on demographic and clinical variables. Patients in all three arms of treatment obtained a reduction in depression scores as well as clinical severity. However, both yoga groups (with or without drugs) were significantly better than the drugs-only group. Higher proportion of patients remitted in the yoga groups compared with the drugs-only group. No untoward events were spontaneously reported in the yoga-treated patients. Conclusion: Within the limitations of this study, it can be concluded that the findings support a case for prescribing yoga as taught in the study in depressive non-suicidal out-patients.


Depression is emerging as a leading cause for global burden from diseases. [sup][1] Prompt treatment is the key to reducing this burden. Antidepressant drugs have remained as standard and effective agents in the treatment. [sup][2] Yet, a sizeable proportion fails to obtain remission. [sup][3] Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments are sought after on cultural/faith reasons or with a different hope. Among the diagnoses that are seen in CAM seekers, depression is most prevalent. [sup][4] Reviews endorse a role for yoga among the CAMs as an effective treatment in depressive disorder patients. [sup][5],[6] Yoga practices that are used in treating depression have also carried a tag of influential schools such as Art-of-Living, Iyengar and Sahaja Yoga. [sup][7],[8],[9],[10] These could carry concerns of associated suggestion effects as well as copyright issues. Yoga is a generic discipline that is available as a recognized curriculum in standard college courses (example, a bachelor and post-graduate degree in yoga). There is hence an option to use practices elucidated in traditional texts as a generic yoga module in the treatment of selected ailments, depression being one. In this study, we report use of one such generic yoga module as treatment in depression, developed from traditional texts. We also compared this with medication treatment as usual.

Materials and Methods


Consenting out-patients with a diagnosis of major depression [sup][11] who were not suicidal and scored 2 or less on the suicide item of Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HRSD), [sup][12] were the subjects of this study. Only patients who were either treatment-naive or were off any treatment in the last one month were included. None had received yoga as treatment before. Patients were referred by the consultants only when there was no indication for electroconvulsive therapy (catatonia, severe depression). A medical doctor (MGR) with 2 years of psychiatry training made the clinical diagnosis as well as the rating on suicide item on HRSD. Patients were offered three treatment options; drug alone, yoga with drugs or yoga alone. They were also invited to participate in a randomized study to compare addition or not of yoga to routine antidepressant drug treatment. …

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