Yoga May Help Mild Depression, Sleep Disorders, Review Finds

A review of 16 high-quality controlled studies that examined the health benefits of yoga found that the ancient practice can have a positive effect on mild depression and sleep disorders. It can also help improve symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD for patients taking medication, according to a news release from the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center set out to examine the evidence for yoga’s ability to treat major psychiatric disorders. After looking at 124 trials, they selected 16 to review because they met rigorous criteria.

“Yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” wrote the authors of the study. “Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”

They found that yoga has benefits for depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints, the news release states. But the evidence for yoga helping eating disorders and cognition problems “was conflicting or lacking.”

“The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance and we call for more research into yoga as a global priority,” said Dr. Doraiswamy. “If the promise of yoga on mental health was found in a drug, it would be the best selling medication world-wide.”

The authors noted in their review that their findings should be considered preliminary because all of the yoga studies consisted of small samples and “more rigorous research will be needed before the exercise can be applied to help patients with mental health disorders.”

Source: news release, Frontiers in Psychology: “Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders.”

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