Potential for prenatal yoga to serve as an intervention to treat depression during pregnancy

Womens Health Issues. 2015 Mar-Apr;25(2):134-41. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2014.12.003.


Background: When left untreated, antenatal depression can have a serious negative impact on maternal, and infant outcomes. Many affected women do not obtain treatment for depression owing to difficulties accessing care or because they do not find standard antidepressant treatments to be acceptable during pregnancy. This study examined the acceptability and feasibility of a gentle prenatal yoga intervention, as a strategy for treating depression during pregnancy.

Methods: We developed a 10-week prenatal yoga program for antenatal depression and an accompanying yoga instructors' manual, and enrolled 34 depressed pregnant women from the community into an open pilot trial. We measured change in maternal depression severity from before to after the intervention.

Results: Results suggested that the prenatal yoga intervention was feasible to administer and acceptable to the women enrolled. No study-related injuries or other safety issues were observed during the trial. On average, participants' depression severity decreased significantly by the end of the intervention based on both observed-rated and self-report depression assessment measures.

Conclusion: The current study suggests that prenatal yoga may be a viable approach to addressing antenatal depression, one that may have advantages in terms of greater acceptability than standard depression treatments. Research and policy implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga*