Islamabad-A series of new studies brings yoga one step closer to becoming a recommended treatment for depression, after finding that the practice can help to reduce symptoms of the condition.

In one study, conducted by Lindsey Hopkins and colleagues focused on a combination of physical exercises, meditation, and breathing exercises.

The researchers found that participants who had high scores on a depression scale prior to the 8-week yoga intervention demonstrated a significant reduction in depression scores after the 8 weeks.

Another study presented at the convention revealed that yoga may also be beneficial for chronic depression, as well as stress and anxiety.

Study co-author Nina Vollbehr, of the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in the Netherlands, and colleagues enrolled 12 adults who had been living with depression for an average of 11 years.

Levels of depression, anxiety, stress, rumination, and worry were assessed before and just after the yoga program, as well as 4 months later.

The researchers found that levels of depression, anxiety, and stress decreased throughout the course of the yoga program, and these results remained 4 months after the program ceased.

While the participants saw no reduction in rumination and worry during the yoga program, there was a decrease in these areas 4 months after the program ended.

“These studies suggest that yoga-based interventions have promise for depressed mood and that they are feasible for patients with chronic, treatment-resistant depression,” says Vollbehr.

Taken together, the researchers believe that their studies indicate that yoga may be a feasible treatment option for depression, particularly for those with a poor response to current therapies.

“At this time, we can only recommend yoga as a complementary approach, likely most effective in conjunction with standard approaches delivered by a licensed therapist. Clearly, yoga is not a cure-all. However, based on empirical evidence, there seems to be a lot of potential.”