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YOGA FOR DEPRESSION: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS

Authors

  • Holger Cramer Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
    • Correspondence to: Dr. Holger Cramer, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Am Deimelsberg 34a, 45276 Essen, Germany. E-mail: h.cramer@kliniken-essen-mitte.de

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  • Romy Lauche Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
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  • Jost Langhorst M.D.,

    1. Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
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  • Gustav Dobos M.D.

    1. Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken Essen-Mitte, Faculty of Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
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  • Contract grant sponsor: Rut- and Klaus-Bahlsen Foundation.

Abstract

Background

Mind–body medical interventions are commonly used to cope with depression and yoga is one of the most commonly used mind–body interventions. The aim of this review was to systematically assess and meta-analyze the effectiveness of yoga for depression.

Methods

Medline/PubMed, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, and IndMED were searched through January 2013. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of yoga for patients with depressive disorders and individuals with elevated levels of depression were included. Main outcomes were severity of depression and remission rates, secondary outcomes were anxiety, quality of life, and safety.

Results

Twelve RCTs with 619 participants were included. Three RCTs had low risk of bias. Regarding severity of depression, there was moderate evidence for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care (standardized mean difference (SMD) = −0.69; 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.99, −0.39; P < .001), and limited evidence compared to relaxation (SMD = −0.62; 95%CI −1.03, −0.22; P = .003), and aerobic exercise (SMD = −0.59; 95% CI −0.99, −0.18; P = .004). Limited evidence was found for short-term effects of yoga on anxiety compared to relaxation (SMD = −0.79; 95% CI −1.3, −0.26; P = .004). Subgroup analyses revealed evidence for effects in patients with depressive disorders and in individuals with elevated levels of depression. Due to the paucity and heterogeneity of the RCTs, no meta-analyses on long-term effects were possible. No RCT reported safety data.

Conclusions

Despite methodological drawbacks of the included studies, yoga could be considered an ancillary treatment option for patients with depressive disorders and individuals with elevated levels of depression.

Ancillary