If you tell your doctor you’re depressed, chances are you’ll leave with a prescription for an antidepressant.
Doctors hand out these drugs like candy.
Antidepressant use has skyrocketed more than 400% since the late 1980s. Twelve percent of American adults are now on one of these medications.
Depression should not be taken lightly. But neither should going on an antidepressant.
Side effects can be life-changing. They include sexual dysfunction, anxiety, and weight gain.
And antidepressants are notoriously difficult to quit once you start taking them.
Now, a new study shows there’s a better way to fight depression.
Researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine looked at 30 depression sufferers. The subjects took yoga classes and did yoga at home.
After 12 weeks, their symptoms improved. They felt calmer and more positive. Feelings of physical exhaustion, anxiety, and depression diminished.
The results were dose-dependent. Subjects who did more yoga had more depression relief. But the difference in benefits between them and people who did the least amount of yoga was small.
Antidepressant drugs raise levels of a brain chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). The researchers say yoga seems to work by doing the same thing naturally.
Dr. Chris Streeter led the study. She noted that previous research shows exercise in general can help relieve depression. But she thinks yoga is more powerful than other activities.
“Yoga has a different quality,” she said.
3 Easy Yoga Poses to Ease Depression
Here are three simple yoga poses that can provide depression relief. Practically anyone can do them.
Dr. Streeter said the mood-lofting effects of yoga last about four days. She suggests doing yoga at least twice a week to get a continuous benefit.
- Cat Pose. Get on your hands and knees. Make sure your arms are straight and at a right angle to the floor. Your knees should be directly below your hips.
Concentrate on your breathing. When you exhale, curve your back toward the ceiling. Allow your head to tilt toward the floor, but not so much that your chin touches your chest.
As you inhale, bring your back down to a relatively straight position. Continue to alternate the positions with each breath.
- Hero Pose. Kneel on the floor. Keep your back straight. Keep your thighs together and perpendicular to the floor. Position your feet slightly wider than your hips. Point them slightly toward each other. The tops of your feet should be flat on the floor. Rest your hands palms down on your thighs.
Have a rolled-up towel or narrow pillow ready to position on the floor between your feet. Lower your rear onto the cushion. Puff your chest and pull your shoulders back a bit.
The first time you do this pose, hold it for about a minute. Eventually, extend the time to five minutes.
- Happy Baby Pose. Lie on your back. As you exhale, bring your knees to your stomach.
Inhale, and grip the sides of your feet with your hands. (If you can’t reach, drape a belt over the soles of your feet and hold the ends.) Open your knees a bit wider than your torso.
Make sure your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Gently push your feet up while pulling them down with your hands or the belt. You should create a moderate level of resistance.
If you suffer from depression, talk to your doctor about trying yoga before you start taking an antidepressant medication.
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