Scientific Research on Yoga > Disease and Disorders > Depression and Anxiety

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Depression and Anxiety Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymia, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorders

Video Spotlight: Depression

Watch this video to learn more about the research conducted on yoga and depression.

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These citations were curated by Yoga Alliance's Director of Yoga Research, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa.

Review Papers

Review Papers (What's this?)

Reducing Allostatic Load in Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Physical Activity and Yoga Practice as Add-On Therapies.
D'Alessio L, Korman GP, Sarudiansky M, Guelman LR, Scévola L, Pastore A, Obregón A, Roldán EJA.
Front Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 4;11:501.
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Effects of yoga on depressive symptoms in people with mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Brinsley J, Schuch F, Lederman O, Girard D, Smout M, Immink MA, Stubbs B, Firth J, Davison K, Rosenbaum S.
Br J Sports Med. 2020 May 18:bjsports-2019-101242. (preprint)
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Yoga and psychiatric disorders: a review of biomarker evidence.
Bhargav H, George S, Varambally S, Gangadhar BN.
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2020 May 13:1-8. (preprint)
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Body-Centered Interventions for Psychopathological Conditions: A Review.
Tarsha MS, Park S, Tortora S.
Front Psychol. 2020 Jan 24;10:2907.
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Yoga for the treatment of depression: Five questions to move the evidence-base forward.
Nauphal M, Mischoulon D, Uebelacker L, Streeter C, Nyer M.
Complement Ther Med. 2019 Oct;46:153-157.
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Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation.
Saeed SA, Cunningham K, Bloch RM.
Am Fam Physician. 2019 May 15;99(10):620-627.
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A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga-based interventions for maternal depression during pregnancy.
Ng QX, Venkatanarayanan N, Loke W, Yeo WS, Lim DY, Chan HW, Sim WS.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb;34:8-12.
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Role of Yoga and Mindfulness in Severe Mental Illnesses: A Narrative Review.
Sathyanarayanan G, Vengadavaradan A, Bharadwaj B.
Int J Yoga. 2019 Jan-Apr;12(1):3-28.
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Hatha yoga for acute, chronic and/or treatment-resistant mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Vollbehr NK, Bartels-Velthuis AA, Nauta MH, Castelein S, Steenhuis LA, Hoenders HJR, Ostafin BD.
PLoS One. 2018 Oct 1;13(10):e0204925.
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Effects of Meditative Movements on Major Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
Zou L, Yeung A, Li C, Wei GX, Chen KW, Kinser PA, Chan JSM, Ren Z.
J Clin Med. 2018 Aug 1;7(8). pii: E195.
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The effects of Sahaja Yoga meditation on mental health: a systematic review.
Hendriks T.
J Complement Integr Med. 2018 May 30. J Complement Integr Med. 2018 May 30;15(3):/j/jcim.2018.15.issue-3/jcim-2016-0163/jcim-2016-0163.xml.
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Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Anheyer D, Pilkington K, de Manincor M, Dobos G, Ward L.
Depress Anxiety. 2018 Sep;35(9):830-843
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A Systematic Review of Mechanisms of Change in Body-Oriented Yoga in Major Depressive Disorders.
Meister K, Juckel G.
Pharmacopsychiatry. 2018 May;51(3):73-81.
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The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression.
Bridges L, Sharma M.
J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):1017-1028.
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Integrating yoga into psychotherapy: The ethics of moving from the mind to the mat.
Kamradt JM.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 May;27:27-30.
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A systematic review of yoga for major depressive disorder.
Cramer H, Anheyer D, Lauche R, Dobos G.
J Affect Disord. 2017 Apr 15;213:70-77.
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The Roles of Exercise and Yoga in Ameliorating Depression as a Risk Factor for Cognitive Decline.
Mathersul DC, Rosenbaum S.
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4612953.
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Effect of Hatha Yoga on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis.
Hofmann SG, Andreoli G, Carpenter JK, Curtiss J.
J Evid Based Med. 2016 Aug;9(3):116-124
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The Efficacy of Body-Oriented Yoga in Mental Disorders.
Klatte R, Pabst S, Beelmann A, Rosendahl JS.
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2016 Mar 25;113(12):195-202.
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Current status of yoga in mental health services.
Varambally S, Gangadhar BN.
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;28(3):233-5.
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Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: A Review of Published Research and Implications for Healthcare Providers.
Uebelacker LA, Broughton MK.
R I Med J (2013). 2016 Mar 1;99(3):20-2.
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Evidence Map of Yoga for Depression, Anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Duan-Porter W, Coeytaux RR, McDuffie JR, Goode AP, Sharma P, Mennella H, Nagi A, Williams JW Jr.
J Phys Act Health. 2016 Mar;13(3):281-8.
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Yoga for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, and Substance Abuse: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet].
Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2015 Jun 22.
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Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective.
Krishnakumar D, Hamblin MR, Lakshmanan S.
Anc Sci. 2015 Apr;2(1):13-19.
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Yoga for prenatal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Gong H, Ni C, Shen X, Wu T, Jiang C.
BMC Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 5;15:14.
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Clinical Inquiry: can yoga reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression?
Skowronek IB, Mounsey A, Handler L.
J Fam Pract. 2014 Jul;63(7):398-407.
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The effectiveness of yoga for depression: a critical literature review.
Louie L.
Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2014 Apr;35(4):265-76.
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A systematic review of yoga for state anxiety: considerations for occupational therapy.
Chugh-Gupta N, Baldassarre FG, Vrkljan BH.
Can J Occup Ther. 2013 Jun;80(3):150-70.
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Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G.
Depress Anxiety. 2013 Nov;30(11):1068-83.
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Meditative movement for depression and anxiety.
Payne P, Crane-Godreau MA.
Front Psychiatry. 2013 Jul 24;4:71.
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Yoga on our minds: a systematic review of yoga for neuropsychiatric disorders.
Balasubramaniam M, Telles S, Doraiswamy PM.
Front Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 25;3:117.
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Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Saper RB, Ciraulo DA, Brown RP.
Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):571-9.
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How might yoga help depression? A neurobiological perspective.
Kinser PA, Goehler LE, Taylor AG.
Explore (NY). 2012 Mar-Apr;8(2):118-26.
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Notable Publications

Notable Publications (What's this?)

Efficacy of Yoga vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Stress Education for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Simon NM, Hofmann SG, Rosenfield D, Hoeppner SS, Hoge EA, Bui E, Khalsa SBS.
JAMA Psychiatry. 2020 Aug 12. (preprint)
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Breathing-focused Yoga as Augmentation for Unipolar and Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial: Le yoga axé sur la respiration comme traitement d'appoint pour la dépression unipolaire et bipolaire: Un essai randomisé contrôlé.
Ravindran AV, McKay MS, da Silva T, Tindall C, Garfinkel T, Paric A, Ravindran L.
Can J Psychiatry. 2020 Jul 17:706743720940535. (preprint)"
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Thalamic Gamma Aminobutyric Acid Level Changes in Major Depressive Disorder After a 12-Week Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing Intervention.
Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Brown RP, Scott TM, Nielsen GH, Owen L, Sakai O, Sneider JT, Nyer MB, Silveri MM.
J Altern Complement Med. 2020 Mar;26(3):190-197.
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Effect of adjunct yoga therapy in depressive disorders: Findings from a randomized controlled study.
Kumar S, Subramaniam E, Bhavanani AB, Sarkar S, Balasundaram S.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2019 Nov-Dec;61(6):592-597.
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Psychological Function, Iyengar Yoga, and Coherent Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Dosing Study.
Scott TM, Gerbarg PL, Silveri MM, Nielsen GH, Owen L, Nyer M, Brown RP, Streeter CC.
J Psychiatr Pract. 2019 Nov;25(6):437-450.
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Cortical inhibition in major depression: Investigating the acute effect of single-session yoga versus walking.
Jakhar J, Mehta UM, Ektare A, Vidyasagar PD, Varambally S, Thirthalli J, Gangadhar BN.
Brain Stimul. 2019 Aug 2. pii: S1935-861X(19)30344-4.
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East meets west in psychiatry: Yoga as an adjunct therapy for management of anxiety.
Bukar NK, Eberhardt LM, Davidson J.
Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2019 Aug;33(4):371-376.
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Acceptability of a mindfulness intervention for depressive symptoms among African-American women in a community health center: A qualitative study.
Burnett-Zeigler I, Satyshur MD, Hong S, Wisner KL, Moskowitz J.
Complement Ther Med. 2019 Aug;45:19-24.
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Community-Delivered Heated Hatha Yoga as a Treatment for Depressive Symptoms: An Uncontrolled Pilot Study.
Nyer M, Hopkins LB, Farabaugh A, Nauphal M, Parkin S, McKee MM, Miller KK, Streeter C, Uebelacker LA, Fava M, Alpert JE, Pedrelli P, Mischoulon D.
J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Aug;25(8):814-823.
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Effects of Mindfulness Yoga vs Stretching and Resistance Training Exercises on Anxiety and Depression for People With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Kwok JYY, Kwan JCY, Auyeung M, Mok VCT, Lau CKY, Choi KC, Chan HYL.
JAMA Neurol. 2019 Jul 1;76(7):755-763.
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Benefits of Yoga on IL-6: Findings from a Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga for Depression.
Nugent NR, Brick L, Armey MF, Tyrka AR, Ridout KK, Uebelacker LA.
Behav Med. 2019 May 29:1-10.
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Feasibility of a group-based laughter yoga intervention as an adjunctive treatment for residual symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in people with depression.
Bressington D, Mui J, Yu C, Leung SF, Cheung K, Wu CST, Bollard M, Chien WT.
J Affect Disord. 2019 Apr 1;248:42-51.
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The experience of mindful yoga for older adults with depression.
Lee KC, Tang WK, Bressington D.
J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2019 Apr;26(3-4):87-100.
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Yoga positively affected depression and blood pressure in women with premenstrual syndrome in a randomized controlled clinical trial.
Ghaffarilaleh G, Ghaffarilaleh V, Sanamno Z, Kamalifard M.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Feb;34:87-92.
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Kundalini Yoga for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: An Exploration of Treatment Efficacy and Possible Mechanisms.
Gabriel MG, Curtiss J, Hofmann SG, Khalsa SBS.
Int J Yoga Therap. 2018 Nov;28(1):97-105.
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iRest Meditation for Older Adults with Depression Symptoms: A Pilot Study.
Wahbeh H, Nelson M.
Int J Yoga Therap. 2018 Oct 24.
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5-HTTLPR and MTHFR 677C>T polymorphisms and response to yoga-based lifestyle intervention in major depressive disorder: A randomized active-controlled trial.
Tolahunase MR, Sagar R, Dada R.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2018 Oct-Dec;60(4):410-426.
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Treatment credibility, expectancy, and preference: Prediction of treatment engagement and outcome in a randomized clinical trial of hatha yoga vs. health education as adjunct treatments for depression.
Uebelacker LA, Weinstock LM, Battle CL, Abrantes AM, Miller IW.
J Affect Disord. 2018 Oct 1;238:111-117.
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A randomized controlled dosing study of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing for the treatment of major depressive disorder: Impact on suicidal ideation and safety findings.
Nyer M, Gerbarg PL, Silveri MM, Johnston J, Scott TM, Nauphal M, Owen L, Nielsen GH, Mischoulon D, Brown RP, Fava M, Streeter CC.
Complement Ther Med. 2018 Apr;37:136-142.
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Improvement in neurocognitive functions and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in patients with depression treated with antidepressants and yoga.
Halappa NG, Thirthalli J, Varambally S, Rao M, Christopher R, Nanjundaiah GB.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2018 Jan-Mar;60(1):32-37.
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Yoga- and meditation-based lifestyle intervention increases neuroplasticity and reduces severity of major depressive disorder: A randomized controlled trial.
Tolahunase MR, Sagar R, Faiq M, Dada R.
Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2018;36(3):423-442.
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Perceptions of hatha yoga amongst persistently depressed individuals enrolled in a trial of yoga for depression.
Uebelacker LA, Kraines M, Broughton MK, Tremont G, Gillette LT, Epstein-Lubow G, Abrantes AM, Battle C, Miller IW.
Complement Ther Med. 2017 Oct;34:149-155.
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Adjunctive yoga v. health education for persistent major depression: a randomized controlled trial.
Uebelacker LA, Tremont G, Gillette LT, Epstein-Lubow G, Strong DR, Abrantes AM, Tyrka AR, Tran T, Gaudiano BA, Miller IW.
Psychol Med. 2017 Sep;47(12):2130-2142.
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Sudarshan Kriya Yoga improves cardiac autonomic control in patients with anxiety-depression disorders.
Toschi-Dias E, Tobaldini E, Solbiati M, Costantino G, Sanlorenzo R, Doria S, Irtelli F, Mencacci C, Montano N.
J Affect Disord. 2017 May;214:74-80.
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Effects of Yoga on Heart Rate Variability and Depressive Symptoms in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
Chu IH, Wu WL, Lin IM, Chang YK, Lin YJ, Yang PC.
J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Apr;23(4):310-316.
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Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial.
Prathikanti S, Rivera R, Cochran A, Tungol JG, Fayazmanesh N, Weinmann E.
PLoS One. 2017 Mar 16;12(3):e0173869.
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Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Dosing Study.
Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Whitfield TH, Owen L, Johnston J, Silveri MM, Gensler M, Faulkner CL, Mann C, Wixted M, Hernon AM, Nyer MB, Brown ERP, Jensen JE.
J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Mar;23(3):201-207.
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A Breathing-Based Meditation Intervention for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to Antidepressants: A Randomized Pilot Study.
Sharma A, Barrett MS, Cucchiara AJ, Gooneratne NS, Thase ME.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;78(1):e59-e63.
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Individualized Yoga for Reducing Depression and Anxiety, and Improving Well-Being: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
de Manincor M, Bensoussan A, Smith CA, Barr K, Schweickle M, Donoghoe LL, Bourchier S, Fahey P.
Depress Anxiety. 2016 Sep;33(9):816-28.
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Serum cortisol and BDNF in patients with major depression-effect of yoga.
Naveen GH, Varambally S, Thirthalli J, Rao M, Christopher R, Gangadhar BN.
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;28(3):273-8.
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Reducing the symptomatology of panic disorder: the effects of a yoga program alone and in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Vorkapic CF, Rangé B.
Front Psychiatry. 2014 Dec 8;5:177.
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Potential long-term effects of a mind-body intervention for women with major depressive disorder: sustained mental health improvements with a pilot yoga intervention.
Kinser PA, Elswick RK, Kornstein S.
Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2014 Dec;28(6):377-83.
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Self-reported benefits and risks of yoga in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Uebelacker LA, Weinstock LM, Kraines MA.
J Psychiatr Pract. 2014 Sep;20(5):345-52.
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Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity.
Hoge EA, Bui E, Marques L, Metcalf CA, Morris LK, Robinaugh DJ, Worthington JJ, Pollack MH, Simon NM.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;74(8):786-92.
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Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga.
Thirthalli J, Naveen GH, Rao MG, Varambally S, Christopher R, Gangadhar BN.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jul;55(Suppl 3):S405-8.
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Positive therapeutic and neurotropic effects of yoga in depression: A comparative study.
Naveen GH, Thirthalli J, Rao MG, Varambally S, Christopher R, Gangadhar BN.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jul;55(Suppl 3):S400-4.
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Positive antidepressant effects of generic yoga in depressive out-patients: A comparative study.
Gangadhar BN, Naveen GH, Rao MG, Thirthalli J, Varambally S.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jul;55(Suppl 3):S369-73.
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Feasibility, acceptability, and effects of gentle Hatha yoga for women with major depression: findings from a randomized controlled mixed-methods study.
Kinser PA, Bourguignon C, Whaley D, Hauenstein E, Taylor AG.
Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2013 Jun;27(3):137-47.
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Tai chi/yoga reduces prenatal depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Field T, Diego M, Delgado J, Medina L.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Feb;19(1):6-10.
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A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity.
Lavretsky H, Epel ES, Siddarth P, Nazarian N, Cyr NS, Khalsa DS, Lin J, Blackburn E, Irwin MR.
Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;28(1):57-65.
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A multicomponent yoga-based, breath intervention program as an adjunctive treatment in patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder with or without comorbidities.
Katzman MA, Vermani M, Gerbarg PL, Brown RP, Iorio C, Davis M, Cameron C, Tsirgielis D.
Int J Yoga. 2012 Jan;5(1):57-65.
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