Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Off With Depression's Head! On With Feeling Good Instead!

More and more scientific research is being done that supports the idea that yoga can be a highly effective treatment for depression, anxiety and trauma. There is increasing substantive evidence to show that not only does yoga make us feel good but that it can make a lasting and measurable difference on our health and well-being when practiced regularly.

The Huffington Post just printed a piece called, "Don't Worry, Be Happy: How Yoga Combats Depression," which explores the idea further by talking to Amy Weintraub, an outspoken teacher using yoga as therapy for depression. Here are a few of the key points from this article that jumped out to me:
  • As many as 10% of Americans alone are being treated with antidepressants at any given time. (Assuming that is the case, and knowing that many people do not even seek any form of treatment, I presume that to mean that a much larger number of Americans actually suffer from depression than what is statistically reported.)
  • There is evidence to show that many of those people do not get the benefits they had hoped for by taking antidepressants.
  • Yoga is one of many natural treatments that has been shown to help people with depression.
  • Weintraub says that yoga is different from regular exercise because the focus on the breath allows for the cultivation of an "observing mind." Because yoga requires us to pay close attention to our feelings and because it cultivates awareness, the lessons learned from such cultivation and awareness can be carried off the mat and into daily life. It can create a less reactive, more meditative state that can enable us to handle life challenges and losses better and more at-ease.
  • She also explores the idea of how yoga can be used to both reduce day-to-day stress and also to release long-term mental and emotional scars from stress and trauma. She continues, "Yogis believe we hold traumas and losses in our psychic (mental-emotional) body and our physical body. What's unique about yoga is that when practicing, we begin to release all that past trauma held in our body, but without a story attached."
  • Studies show that a regular yoga practice produces biochemical changes in the body, including increasing oxytocin (aka the happy hormone) and GABA (a neurotransmitter that is found to be low in individuals suffering from depression and anxiety) levels in the body.
  • For more on the best yoga techniques for depression, click here
  • Weintraub's website, www.YogaForDepression.com, also contains other resources of note.
What this tells me is that one natural way to fight depression and feel good is to find connection by rolling out the mat, taking deep breaths and making the body work. 

1 comment:

  1. Depression kills. In the past, mental illness was a separate category. but now, it is belived that mental illness is behind the onset of many diseases. curing the depression actually cures many diseases. Hypertension which is involved in the pathology of many diseases, it it believed that depression contributes in its etiology.. therefore, eradication of depression is necessary