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.
Keywords: Depression; Depressive disorder; Meta-analysis; Review; Yoga.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.