New York: Hot yoga sessions for just once a week may help reduce depression, indicating that heated yoga could be a viable treatment option for patients suffering from moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms, new research has claimed.
In a randomised controlled clinical trial of adults with moderate-to-severe depression, led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), depressive symptoms were reduced even in participants who received only half of the prescribed yoga "dose", suggesting that hot yoga sessions just once a week could be beneficial.
In the eight-week trial, 80 participants were randomised into two groups: one that received 90-minute sessions of Bikram yoga practiced in a 40.5 degree celsius room and a second group that was placed on a waitlist (waitlist participants completed the yoga intervention after their waitlist period).
A total of 33 participants in the yoga group and 32 in the waitlist group were included in the analysis.
Participants in the intervention group were prescribed at least two yoga classes per week, but overall, they attended an average of 10.3 classes over eight weeks.
After eight weeks, yoga participants had a significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms than waitlisted participants, as assessed through what's known as the clinician-rated Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-CR) scale.
The investigators also observed that 59.3 per cent of yoga participants had a 50 per cent or greater decrease in symptoms, compared with 6.3 per cent of waitlist participants.
Moreover, 44 per cent in the yoga arm achieved such low IDS-CR scores that their depression was considered in remission, compared with 6.3 per cent in the waitlist arm, said the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
"Yoga and heat-based interventions could potentially change the course for treatment for patients with depression by providing a non-medication–based approach with additional physical benefits as a bonus," said lead author Maren Nyer, director of Yoga Studies at the Depression Clinical and Research Programme at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We are currently developing new studies with the goal of determining the specific contributions of each element -- heat and yoga -- to the clinical effects we have observed in depression," said Nyer, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Participants rated the hot yoga sessions positively, and they experienced no serious adverse effects associated with the intervention.
"Future research is needed to compare heated to non-heated yoga for depression to explore whether heat has benefits over and above that of yoga for the treatment of depression," added senior author David Mischoulon, Director, Depression Clinical and Research Programme at the Massachusetts General Hospital.