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Adjunctive yoga v. health education for persistent major depression: a randomized controlled trial

  • L. A. Uebelacker (a1) (a2), G. Tremont (a2) (a3), L. T. Gillette (a4), G. Epstein-Lubow (a1) (a2), D. R. Strong (a5), A. M. Abrantes (a1) (a2), A. R. Tyrka (a1) (a2), T. Tran (a2) (a3), B. A. Gaudiano (a1) (a2) and I. W. Miller (a1) (a2)...
Abstract
Background

The objective of this study was to determine whether hatha yoga is an efficacious adjunctive intervention for individuals with continued depressive symptoms despite antidepressant treatment.

Method

We conducted a randomized controlled trial of weekly yoga classes (n = 63) v. health education classes (Healthy Living Workshop; HLW; n = 59) in individuals with elevated depression symptoms and antidepressant medication use. HLW served as an attention-control group. The intervention period was 10 weeks, with follow-up assessments 3 and 6 months afterwards. The primary outcome was depression symptom severity assessed by blind rater at 10 weeks. Secondary outcomes included depression symptoms over the entire intervention and follow-up periods, social and role functioning, general health perceptions, pain, and physical functioning.

Results

At 10 weeks, we did not find a statistically significant difference between groups in depression symptoms (b = −0.82, s.e. = 0.88, p = 0.36). However, over the entire intervention and follow-up period, when controlling for baseline, yoga participants showed lower levels of depression than HLW participants (b = −1.38, s.e. = 0.57, p = 0.02). At 6-month follow-up, 51% of yoga participants demonstrated a response (⩾50% reduction in depression symptoms) compared with 31% of HLW participants (odds ratio = 2.31; p = 0.04). Yoga participants showed significantly better social and role functioning and general health perceptions over time.

Conclusions

Although we did not see a difference in depression symptoms at the end of the intervention period, yoga participants showed fewer depression symptoms over the entire follow-up period. Benefits of yoga may accumulate over time.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: L. A. Uebelacker, Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI 02906, USA. (Email: luebelacker@butler.org)
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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