Washington D.C.: For decades, researchers have tried to prove that yoga can make even the clinically depressed people happier, but a new study shows that it’s not that simple.
The University of North Carolina study found that while there are some promising benefits to using yoga, there isn’t yet enough evidence to support the practice as a standalone solution for improving mental health and well-being.
Researcher Rebecca Macy said, “I really wanted to know if yoga is something we should be suggesting to people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression, or anxiety or various traumas. What does the evidence really say?”
For their study, Macy and her colleagues analyzed 13 literature reviews to conduct a meta-review of 185 articles published between 2000 and 2013. Overall, the researchers found that yoga holds potential promise for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma at least in the short term.
The study also suggested that clinicians and service providers consider recommending yoga as an intervention in addition to other “evidence-based and well-established treatments,” including psychotherapy and medication.
Co-author Leslie Roach, a certified yoga instructor and massage therapist, noted that yoga is, in general, incredibly beneficial, but there needs to be a whole lot more education about how to use yoga specifically to treat survivors of trauma in order to be the most effective and helpful.
She added, “So as a standalone treatment right now, it’s just not viable. However, I think with more education, more research, and more experienced instructors, it will be.”
The study is published in the journal Trauma, Violence & Abuse.