Background: Sudarshana Kriya Yoga (SKY) has demonstrable antidepressant effects. SKY was tested for this effect in inpatients of alcohol dependence.
Methods: Following a week of detoxification management consenting subjects (n=60) were equally randomized to receive SKY therapy or not (controls) for a two-week study. SKY therapy included alternate day practice of specified breathing exercise under supervision of a trained therapist. Subjects completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) before and after the two weeks of this intervention. Morning plasma cortisol, ACTH and prolactin too were measured before and at the end of two weeks.
Results: In both groups reductions in BDI scores occurred but significantly more so in SKY group. Likewise, in both groups plasma cortisol as well as ACTH fell after two weeks but significantly more so in SKY group. Reduction in BDI scores correlated with that in cortisol in SKY but not in control group.
Limitations: Antidepressant effects of SKY were demonstrated in early abstinence that also had substantial spontaneous improvement. It is not known if this effect contributes to sustained abstinence.
Conclusion: Results extend the antidepressant effects of SKY in alcohol dependence subjects. Reduction in stress-hormone levels (cortisol and ACTH) along with BDI reductions possibly support a biological mechanism of SKY in producing beneficial effects.