Yogic Breathing Can Help Combat Major Depression — Says Study

Yoga, an ancient old science of exercise and healing, is known for its holistic benefits and is fast catching up globally.

A recent study by the Perelman School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania, has claimed that yogic breathing, can help combat complicated symptoms of depression. The technique, known as the Sudarshan Kriya yoga, can help manage symptoms of severe depression in people who did not respond well to antidepressants.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in November 2016, found substantial evidence that breathing technique can help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients taking medication for major depressive disorder (MDD). The researchers did not see any significant improvement in the condition of respondents who did not participate in the breathing practices.

Two months of practice shows desired results

When the researchers compared the control group and the yoga group, even a practice for two months showed significant differences between them. The mean Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) score of participants practicing yoga breathing dipped by several points, whereas the control group showed no such improvement. The HDRS is a popular depression assessment tool used by clinicians to gauge mood, energy, interest in activities, guilt feelings and suicidal tendencies in patients.

For millions of Americans who usually do not fully respond to antidepressants, the introduction of such easy and natural technique is a welcome change. The researchers have noted that the current complementary techniques to precipitate the effects of drugs seldom deliver. They, instead, prolong the depressive episodes. Another problem area is that those on antidepressants are susceptible to relapses compared to those not taking medications.

“With such a large portion of patients who do not fully respond to antidepressants, it’s important we find new avenues that work best for each person to beat their depression,” said lead researcher Anup Sharma, M.D., Ph.D. from the department of Psychiatry at Penn.

The Sudarshan Kriya is a promising and cost-effective method that could potentially serve as an effective therapy, Sharma said. For patients struggling with depression, it could be the best non-drug approach.

Ease of practicing is an added benefit

The specialty of the technique is its simple method of practice. The exercise can be done at home in a tranquil environment or in a group under the guidance of a teacher.

The series of sequencing breathing, which is rhythmic-oriented, can put people into a deep meditative state that helps provide rest to the body. In a way, it calms the tired and restless nerves that cannot be induced by medicines every time. The sublime restfulness brought about by this breathing technique can provide the practitioners with a detached perspective and can help them get a hold over their thoughts. It can be brilliant for people who perpetually harbor depressive thoughts. Regular practice of the breathing technique can help depressed patients live a happy life.

Dealing with mental problems

It is never easy to live with or deal with someone suffering from a mental problem. Seeking immediate treatment is an ideal solution to address any mental disorder or the situation can get out of hand.

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