Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Pranayama for the Management of Depression and Enhancement of Resilience

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Pranayama for the Management of Depression and Enhancement of Resilience

Article excerpt

Depression is found to be one of the leading source of adult disability worldwide. Almost 350 million people are estimated to suffer from depression (World Health Organisation, 2013). Depression and anxiety are found to occur together and have common causes and neurobiology (Neale & Kendler, 1995). Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and sense of well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, hurt, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions, and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains, or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may also be present. The statistics of persons affected by clinical depression in our society is quite alarming. So it is high time and a major responsibility for Psychologists to do something to support such people and bring about a positive change in their mental health.

Depression and anxiety are closely linked to structural and functional abnormalities in a number of stress and mood related brain regions. Alterations have been observed in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) (involved in immune response (Capuron et al., 2005; Craig, 2003; Goehler et al., 2000; Gaykema & Goehler, 2011); affective regulation and reward anticipation (Jackson et al., 2006; Decety & Jackson, 2004); and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) (which anatomically connects to the ACC) and is involved in social behaviour, and personality traits (Miller et al., 2002; Yang & Raine, 2009). Functional and structural changes are also seen in regions of the limbic system (involved in the stress response, regulations of fear), anxiety, mood and emotion (Herman et al., 2005; Kempton et al., 2011; Davis, 1992) namely the hippocampus and amygdale.

The current pharmacological treatment methods, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are not beneficial for all individuals (Howland, 2006; Kirsch et al., 2008) and not only that, they are associated with detrimental side effects, such as metabolic disorders and diabetes (McIntyre et al., 2010) that reduce quality oflife and negatively influence individual adherence to the medication (Schatzberg, 2007). Thus, there is need for safer and more effective treatment methods for mood disorders.

Resilience is the capacity within an individual to withstand stress and catastrophe. The capabilities of man to adapt to situations and overcome stress and adversity have long been studied by psychologists. Being resilient doesn't mean that a person is not experiencing any stress. People experience various negative emotions during or after negative life situations. A person becomes resilient when he go through stressful events. Resilience develop as people grow up and start to think in a better way and use their skills and knowledge to manage situations. Resilience also comes from supportive relationships and the beliefs one learned from his culture that help him to cope-up with the adversities in life.

Developing resilience will show strength in the face of adversity. There are many challenges which are unavoidable in life. Most of the people will encounter adversity, in various forms like relationship issues, health problems, and financial burden. Even significant wealth provides no protection in such situations. Resilience provides a strong inner strength. That's why resilience is being pinpointed by psychologists as one of the keys to satisfaction in life. It helps in improved performance, maintaining better physical health, prevention of depression and enhancing social skills.

Yoga has its origins in Indian culture and in its original form consisted of a complex system of spiritual, moral and physical practices aimed at attaining self-awareness. …

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