Choi Chung, BScPharm, RPh
Suddenly, things just don’t feel like they used to.
We begin to experience this feeling of sadness that we just can’t seem to shake off.
Things that used to bring us happiness now begin to feel like another chore.
We start feeling more irritated than we normally are and we begin lashing out at others over the little things.
This is depression.
About 8% of adults will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Unfortunately, depression can affect us in many different ways. For starters, it can impact our happiness, relationships, and quality of life.
How do we manage depression?
Although medications play a big role in managing depression, only 50-60% of people actually benefit from their first go at an antidepressant. And to boot, it’s not unusual for some people to not see any benefit for up to 2 months after starting their medications. So, it’s no wonder why many are left feeling frustrated in search of a way to lift their spirits.
With this in mind, researchers are starting to look more closely at alternative methods of managing depression. One of these methods includes a breathing-based meditation technique known as Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY).
What’s Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) and can it help with my depression?
SKY is a type of breathing exercise with roots in traditional yoga. It involves cyclical, controlled, and rhythm-specific breathing which can help bring people into a restful, meditative state of mind.
As part of a pilot study, Sharma et. al. looked into how effective SKY was in managing depression for those who experienced a subpar initial response to an antidepressant.
The study separated people into two groups: those who practiced SKY as part of an 8 week program and those who were withheld from the program.
Overall, researchers found that those who ended up completing the SKY program saw a significant reduction in their depression levels. What’s more is that people also seemed to partake and tolerate this type of therapy quite well.
What’s the consensus?
This pilot study adds to the compelling evidence behind yoga and it’s benefits on mental health.
Given the relatively low-risk of practicing SKY or other similar breathing exercises, this form of therapy can safely be recommended as an addition to antidepressants. With this in mind, practitioners might consider recommending this yoga practice to those who haven’t been able to find the benefits they’ve been looking for with their current medication.
Overall, this study has really shown the need for us to continue explore these practices in bigger studies in order to identify their true potential within the treatment of depression.
- A Breathing-based Meditation Intervention for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to Antidepressants: A Randomized Pilot Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27898207
- Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/