Can Yoga help deal with Depression?
Bangalore Yoga Centre
Basavanagudi, Apr 24, 2019
Yoga is practised by many people all over the world to boost health and wellbeing. Yoga is mainly practised for the immense health benefits that it offers, which includes weight loss, developing strength and balance in the body, improving blood circulation, preventing various illnesses, etc. However, not many people are aware of the fact that Yoga is also very useful in boosting mental health and can even help in dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
There are many instances in which Yoga has helped a depressed patient. Before we get into how Yoga can cure depression, let’s understand what depression is.
Depression is a mental disorder that affects millions of people every year, and in severe cases, the patients end their own lives. Sadly, depression, like most mental disorders, is surrounded by stigma, and therefore patients are apprehensive about seeking treatment.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 264 million people of all ages around the world suffer from depression. There are 8,00,000 suicide-related deaths every year, and it is the second most cause of deaths in 15-29-year-olds.
Therefore it is essential for anyone suffering from even the mildest form of depression to seek treatment. It would be helpful if the friends and family of the depressed patient support and encourage him or her to seek treatment.
So what exactly is depression? When exactly do I go to seek help? Is it necessary? Will it be helpful? These are questions that run in most people's minds.
Depression is the continuous feeling of immense sadness that lasts for more than two weeks. A depressed patient does not find pleasure in performing any activities, and lacks the energy to do it; something he could normally do before.
A clinically depressed patient has a hard time maintaining a healthy eating or sleeping pattern. EIther he sleeps a lot more than usual or suffers from sleeplessness. The same goes for eating too. The patient is filled with a sense of hopelessness and finds himself unable to conjure any positive thoughts.
Why do people get depressed?
Depression doesn’t have an exact cause. But few of the factors that could lead to depression include:
Abuse: If the patient has gone through abuse in the past, he or she is more likely to acquire depression. This includes physical, sexual or emotional abuse the patient had to deal with in the past or present.
Medication: Certain medications could have depression as a side effect. Drugs like isotretinoin (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, are some of the few said medications.
Personal conflict: When a person has conflicts with family or friends and is already biologically vulnerable to developing depression, he is more likely to be affected.
Loss of a loved one: When a person is undergoing grief due to a loss of a loved one, it could manifest into depression.
Genetics: If the person’s family has a history of depression, then there is a high risk of getting depressed. It isn’t a trait that is linked to a single gene but has many different genes affecting the chances.
Major Events: If a person is going through major changes in life, be it good or bad, like getting married or divorced, starting a new job, moving to a new place, retiring, etc. then the chances of getting depressed are more likely.
Other personal problems: Sometimes, a person going through various illnesses might be socially isolated, or due to some personal reason has been cast out by loved ones can contribute to the risk. Besides that, some diseases have depression as a symptom too. People who deal with substance abuse are usually already clinically depressed. Even if drugs or alcohol provide temporary relief, they ultimately will make the depression worse.
Current events: A person who is exposed to different bad news like murder, rape, troubles economy, oppression, etc., internalized such information and are then affected by it. The thoughts that follow this process contribute to getting depressed.
What is depression supposed to feel like?
Some of the apparent symptoms of depression include:
A visible lack of interest or pleasure in activities like sports, hobbies, etc. that the patient previously enjoyed.
There is a significant weight loss or gain due to the increase or decrease in appetite.
Insomnia or hypersomnia, i.e. the patient finds it hard to fall asleep or is sleeping more often than usual.
The patient is restless, unable to sit still, or is constantly pacing around and shows similar such symptoms; this is called psychomotor agitation. Or the complete opposite of it happens, i.e. the patient's movements are slow, is quieter than usual, or doesn't indulge in social activities.
The patient is in a constant state of fatigue. Daily activities like dressing up, going to the bathroom or similar such things are done at slower and in an uninterested manner.
The patient is unable to concentrate or think, and is often indecisive, easily distracted and is sometimes unable to remember things.
The patient is plagued with guilt or worthlessness for no appropriate reason.
The patient is usually considering the idea of death and may think about committing suicide. He or she either finds a new fear of death or is constantly planning or attempting to commit suicide.
How Yoga can help with depression
Now that we know a little bit about depression and how it feels like let's understand how Yoga can play a role in managing the symptoms of depression.
According to the science of Yoga, physical health and mental health are closely aligned, and hence practising Yoga helps in dealing with mental health issues. Depression is one of the most common mental health issues, affecting millions of people worldwide. Naturally, many people resort to antidepressants to deal with depression and other similar health issues. However, there are many people for whom antidepressants are not effective and hence, may require some other form of treatment.
Physical exercise is proven to boost mental health. Various studies have shown that people who practice Yoga regularly have lower levels of stress and are less prone to depression or other mental ailments. Furthermore, studies have also shown that people who take antidepressants for the treatment of depression are also benefited by the practice of Yoga.
So, how does Yoga have an impact on depression? Well, practising Yoga has the following effects on our body:
Reduces the impact of stress
Soothes and calms the mind
Alleviates chronic health conditions
Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
Promotes blood flow in the body
The above changes have a direct or indirect impact on the mental health of the individual. Yoga can, therefore, effectively help in dealing with depression and other mental ailments. However, people should not abruptly give up medications and switch to Yoga, as it is not an alternative to antidepressants. Talk to your healthcare provider about the same before you start practising Yoga.
Remember, Yoga can help keep the depression symptoms at bay, but that does not mean that it can completely cure the same. For properly understanding depression, you must visit a mental health professional and get proper treatment.
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