This study, just published in Psychological Medicine, indicates that when people have persistent depressive symptoms, despite anti-depressant treatment, the benefits of yoga may make a difference in their lives, but that the positive outcome will take longer. In the largest randomized controlled trial to date of difficult-to-treat participants with persistent depressive symptoms, Lisa Uebelacker of Brown University and Butler Hospital, and her colleagues found that though there was no significant improvement right after the intervention as compared to a health education control group, over the length of the interview and follow-up period, those who took part in the yoga intervention had lower levels of depression than the education group — at 6 months, 51% of the those who took yoga had a response, which was defined as more than a 50% reduction in symptoms, compared with 31% of the education group. Those in the yoga group also had significantly better social functioning and overall health. According to the researchers, no other study to date has used a comparably difficult-to-treat group.
The yoga protocol was developed by Tom Gillette of Eyes of the World Yoga Center with consultation and manual review by LifeForce Yoga founder, Amy Weintraub. The DVD LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues was one part of the home practice that accompanied the study.
Read more about the study and findings here.
This study and others point to the important benefits of yoga education for mental health professionals and the understanding of basic mental health principles for yoga professionals who work in behavioral health or would like to to do so. Yoga and mental health professionals can further their education and learn to collaborate with each other in programs like the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training. This also means that mental health consumers would benefit from seeking out professionals trained in the therapeutic aspects of yoga for mental health, and perhaps themselves enrolling in workshops and trainings specific to yoga and mental health. Whether you are a provider or a participant in the mental health system, a yoga practitioner or teacher, you may wish to consider the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training and Retreat that includes a certification track for yoga and health professionals.