Yoga has shown promising results in in major psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints, say findings from a review of over 100 studies.
Emerging evidence in support of the 5,000-year-old Indian practice is "highly promising" and showed that yoga may not only help to improve symptoms, but also may also prevent stress-related mental illnesses, said P. Murali Doraiswamy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke, who co-authored the study with Meera Balasubramaniam.
Yoga has positive effects on mild depression, affecting more than 350 million people globally, says WHO and sleep complaints, even in the absence of treatments, and improves symptoms tied to schizophrenia and ADHD which is linked with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, among children, the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry reports.
Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the US alone, according to a survey by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in popular belief, according to a Duke statement.
"However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype. Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise," said Doraiswamy.
The review by Duke University Medical Centre of more than a 100 studies, focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.
Benefits of the exercise were found for all mental health illnesses included in the review, except for eating disorders and recognition problems as the evidence for these was conflicting or lacking.
Yoga was found to influence key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health in similar ways to that of anti-depressants and psychotherapy.
One study found that the exercise affects neurotransmitters, inflammation, oxidative stress, lipids, growth factors and second messengers.
--Indo-Asian News Service