Does yoga help with depression?
Before answering this question, we need to know what exactly depression is, and how does it impact your life.
What Is Depression?
Depression is an illness that affects your brain. It is your reaction to something sad, loss of someone, or dejection. When these feelings aggravate and become intense, it leads to a medical condition called clinical depression.
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health. While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason.
When you get emotionally attached to something over a period, and it doesn’t exist anymore, it leaves a gap, and depression takes over to cope with the loss. Genetics, fluctuation in the hormone levels, some medical conditions, post-surgery reaction, and high-stress levels also cause depression. It is a common yet severe problem that needs to be tackled before it gets out of hand.
Common Symptoms of Depression
People often confuse sadness with depression. Thus, it becomes highly necessary to know the symptoms and traits of Depression. Most common ones are:
1. Feeling of guilt, sadness and worthlessness regularly
2. Reduced levels of concentration at work
4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
5. Loss of energy or increased fatigue
6. Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
7. The hobbies and activities which you were passionate about once now seem to be unappealing and boring
8. You think about death and suicide more often
9. A feeling of instability and fidgety takes over
10. You tend to gain weight or lose it drastically – Loss of appetite!
Feeling sad or anxious at times is a normal part of life, but if these feelings last more than two weeks they could be symptoms of depression. Depression, if left untreated, can interrupt your day-to-day life and cause a ripple effect of additional symptoms.
Effects of Depression on the Overall Body System
Depression is technically a mental disorder, but it also affects your physical health and well-being. It impacts your body and mind system in a severe manner. Check out some of them below:
1. Trouble with Memory and Decision-Making
Cognitive changes such as trouble remembering things or difficulties with making decisions occur with depression. These are more common in older adults suffering from depression.
Depression mostly keeps you awake during the night. This is because of the thoughts rolling over your mind and heart as a result of depression, which affects sleep.
3. Preoccupation with Death
Depression mostly causes a preoccupation with hurting a person himself/herself. It increases the risk of suicides and untimely deaths.
4. Risk of Heart Attack
People who are depressed are likely to die following a heart attack. The reason is constantly engaging their heart with thoughts, feelings, and actions which are prone to strike them directly leading to problems like cardiac arrests and heart strokes.
5. Constricted Blood Vessels
Depression and stress cause the blood vessels to constrict, raising the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
6. Increased Pain Sensitivity
Headache and other body pains affect a person with depression. For people suffering from depression, the pain doesn’t ease with medication.
7. Weakened Immune System
Depression weakens the ability to fight off diseases. This includes minor illness like a common cold, flu and also the major and serious ones like cardiovascular diseases.
8. Low Interest in Sex
Being depressed causes losing interest in sex and other physical activities which were once interesting. Taking antidepressants mostly affects the libido.
Yoga as a Cure for Depression
Yoga is one of the best ways to lighten your mood and keep depression at bay. Yoga poses increase blood circulation to the brain and enable the production of the mood-elevating hormones.
1. Exercise increases serotonin production.
2. Yoga is an exercise that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Practicing Yoga may help improve your energy level, pain tolerance, and self-esteem.
Yoga is a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. The therapy may help with depression and your symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating or loss of energy.
How does Yoga Therapy work?
Yoga therapy can be very powerful in the treatment of depression. Even if Yoga isn’t your forte, the combination of meditation and physical movement provide two important elements for relieving depression. Meditation helps bring a person into the present moment and allows them to clear their minds. Controlled and focused movements also help strengthen the body-mind connection. Breathing exercises are effective in reducing depressive symptoms. It is also helpful as the exercise focuses on deep, controlled breathing.
1. Improves Mood and Relaxation
As an exercise, Yoga is a natural way to increase serotonin production. Serotonin production plays an important role in the treatment of depression and inculcating in happiness. As per studies and medical research, it is known that people with depression have lower serotonin levels.
Yoga is also especially helpful because of its gentle, calming, and fluid nature. Each pose is flexible, so people of all levels can practice. Yoga emphasizes on breathing, concentration, and smooth movement. It also encourages you to focus on positive images to calm the body and mind.
2. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Yoga also increases the heart rate variability (HRV), or change in time between heartbeats, by increasing the relaxation response over the stress response in the body. A high HRV means that your body is better at self-monitoring or adapting, particularly to stress.
Yoga also reduces resting heart rate, lowers blood pressure, eases breathing and increases pain tolerance.
3. Brings Stability and Calms the mind
Pranayama and Yoga bring stability, calms the mind, improves blood circulation and cures depression stress and anxiety. Some yoga poses like Halasana, Sarvanga Asana, Shava Asana are very important to cure depression stress and anxiety.
4. Brings Positivity
Yoga and pranayama play an important role in your life to become healthy. Seven Pranayamas are very important which are related to breathing exercise. Pranayama is effective to remove the bad toxin from our body and give positive energy.
Yoga Poses to Cure Depression
The practice of Yoga doesn’t have any adverse side effects, which make it a better option as compared to other medication for depression. Some yoga poses to fight depression are mentioned below. Try them regularly to notice significant changes.
1. Balasana (Child Pose)
Balasana helps calm your brain and relieves stress and anxiety. It gently stretches your lower back and hips, enabling your body to relax. Peace and calm prevail over your entire being, helping you deal with your depression better.
2. Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Sethu Bandhasana strengthens the back muscles and relieves a tired back. It helps you relax and works wonders for people suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. It opens up your heart, making you feel light and at ease.
3. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana can easily cure mild fatigue and depression. It has an overall rejuvenating effect on your body, and all the stress trapped in your back will vanish.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana enables fresh blood to flow into your body. It stretches the neck and cervical spine, releasing the
stress in them, thereby reducing anxiety and calming your being.
5. Halasana (Plow Pose)
Halasana reduces the strain on your back and enhances your posture. It calms your brain, gives it a good stretch, and reduces stress. It keeps headaches and insomnia at bay. This is one of the best calming poses for your nervous system.
6. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose)
Uttanasana relieves tension in your back, shoulders, and neck and improves the functioning of your nervous system. It calms you and reduces the anxiety levels.
7. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Savasana rejuvenates you and helps your body relax. It reduces blood pressure and lets the effects of the previous poses to sink in better. Finally, after all the mind and body invigorating poses, Savasana will give you all the rest and scope to heal.
All the above-mentioned poses will help relieve the emotional scars and trauma deeply ingrained in your physical and psychic body.
When you practice Yoga, you pay attention to your body. It makes you feel whole and connected. Yoga offers support and solace and the ability to live in the moment. The unique mind-body approach of Yoga is more and more becoming the choice to fight depression. It is holistic and long-lasting without any side effects.