Yoga can effectively fight depression

Mental health constitutes an essential part of the overall health of a person. People are very conscious and aware about the physical health. But when it comes to mental health, there is paucity of awareness. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point of their lives. Some of the mental health disorders are depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, and trauma related disorders. Among this depression is a common and serious mental health disorder that negatively affects the personal, social and professional life. Sometimes leads to suicide if not treated properly. According to the WHO, depression is a mental disorder that affects around 264 million people world-wide annually. By 2030 depression will be leading cause of disability world-wide.

A study conducted by the WHO revealed that in India  around 200 million people (one in five people) suffer from depression. The bitter truth is that actual number will be more than this because many people are not ready to come out openly. This is due to the lack of awareness, ignorance, and fear of judgement. It is factual that, at the current scenario more people are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Indian Psychiatric Society reported that mental health concerns during the Covid-19 have worsened by an alarming 20%, with a record rise in psycho social concerns like depression, anxiety disorders, domestic violence, etc. The mental health experts revealed that issues like anxiety and depression are on a rise among their patients and maintaining good mental health has become the need of the hour.

Many people successfully fight depression with yoga and scientific evidence suggests it works. Yoga postures helps counteract anxiety driven depression because it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and is a natural way to increase serotonin, the happy hormone.

Depression is a serious psychological condition characterised by constant feelings of sadness, anger, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. The symptoms of depression could vary according to the severity and the individual. Psychological and pharmacological treatments exist for moderate and severe depression. Along with this, doctor often advice the patients to do yoga therapy for depression. There are different types of yoga postures for depression. Though many forms are safe, some may difficult for beginners. It is better to learn yoga from a well-trained teacher. In particular, elderly people and people who are under medications should check first with a clinician before choosing yoga as a treatment option.

In recent decades yoga has become increasingly popular in the treatment of depression. Some studies showed a reduction in suicide ideation for people suffering with depression after 12-week yoga intervention. Many people successfully fight depression with yoga and scientific evidence suggests it works. Yoga postures helps counteract anxiety driven depression because it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and is a natural way to increase serotonin, the happy hormone.

According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, serotonin production plays a role in the treatment of depression. Generally, people with depression show higher levels of cortisol. It’s thought that the breathing exercises, that are a key part of yoga induce the body’s relaxation response. Mindfulness meditation which is another aspect of yoga helps to lower the cortisolas well as reductions in the size of the amygdala. People having depression usually exhibit an enlarged amygdala. Amygdala is recognised as a component of the limbic system which is responsible for emotions and behaviour.

According to a research published in Brain Imaging and Behaviour, revealed that meditation and yoga practice is associated with smaller right amygdala volume. This study was embedded within the population-based Rotterdam study and included 3742 participants for cross-sectional association. Participants filled out a questionnaire assessing meditation & yoga practice and experienced stress, and underwent a magnetic resonance scan of the brain.2397 participants underwent multiple brain scans and were assessed for the structural change of Amygdala and hippocampal volumes, which are the structures in brain affected by yoga & meditation. Through yoga we can increase the volume of the hippocampus, which is involved in memory processing. In general, people who have unipolar depression shows a low hippocampal volume.

Yoga is a precious gift given by yogis, Indian tradition and culture to the people around the globe. It helps to balance the body, mind and soul. The deep breathing techniques like pranayama are effective to reduce stress. Such techniques also provide peace of mind and generate positive energy in the body. Through yoga an individual is able to concentrate on our own self. It also helps a person to accept the feelings whatever it is. Depression arises when a person tries to deny feelings such as anger or sadness. In addition, yoga classes are welcoming spaces that can provide a supportive sense of community.