The effectiveness of yoga for depression: a critical literature review

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2014 Apr;35(4):265-76. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2013.874062.


In the United States, the prevalence of depression is quite high-9% in the general population-with women, young adults, and seniors particularly vulnerable. In recent years, increasing numbers of people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for relief from depression and other mental health problems. One form of CAM, yoga, has been growing in popularity; this rise in popularity has, in part, been driven by interest in how this practice, with its mindfulness and meditation aspects, may decrease depression. This critical literature review examines six recent studies on yoga as an intervention; specifically, this review focuses on yoga styles in which the practice of yoga poses, called asanas, is the core component. Although the significant positive findings are promising, the studies had methodological limitations; identification of these limitations can inform future studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Complementary Therapies / nursing
  • Depressive Disorder / nursing*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Spirituality*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga / psychology*
  • Young Adult