Posted on Feb 06, 2013, 6 a.m.
Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Public pressure prompts the identification of clinically efficacious, safe, patient acceptable, and cost-effective forms of treatment for mental disorders. Several studies have demonstrated benefit from yoga in specific psychiatric symptoms and a general sense of well-being. Meera Balasubramaniam, from Duke University (North Carolina, USA), and colleagues completed a systematic assessment to determine the efficacy of yoga in the treatment of major psychiatric disorders. Benefits of the exercise were found for all mental health illnesses included in the review, observing that emerging scientific evidence in support of the 5,000 year old Indian practice on psychiatric disorders is "highly promising" and showed that yoga may not only help to improve symptoms, but also may have an ancillary role in the prevention of stress-related mental illnesses. The review found evidence from biomarker studies showing that yoga influences key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health in similar ways to that of antidepressants and psychotherapy. One study found that the exercise affects neurotransmitters, inflammation, oxidative stress, lipids, growth factors and second messengers. The study authors conclude that: "There is emerging evidence from randomized trials to support popular beliefs about yoga for depression, sleep disorders, and as an augmentation therapy.”
Meera Balasubramaniam, Shirley Telles, P. Murali Doraiswamy. “Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders.” Front. Psychiatry, 25 January 2013.