Yoga could fight depression and anxiety, study says

Wednesday 27 June, 2007

depressionThis week brings more evidence that yoga can be a powerful tool against depression and anxiety - two of the West's most common conditions.  


A study has found that yoga helps to raise inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain.

Low GABA - or gamma aminobutyric adid - levels are thought to contribute to both conditions. Treatment is currently through drugs.

The study - which is admittedly small - brought together eight people who performed yoga for an hour, and compared the results to eleven who just read for the same time.

Thee was an immediate 27% increase in brain GABA levels in the yoga group, compared to none in the reading group.

"The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage," says Perry Renshaw, of the McLean Hospital.

Yoga's emphasis on breathing and meditation - together with its asanas that help blood flow freely round the body - have long been known to promote wellbeing and positive mental health.

Mental illness is responsible for fifteen per cent of the world's total diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.

The study was carried out by the Boston University School of Medicine and MacLean Hospital.

Also see a previous article on yoga and depression.




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