Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Iyengar Yoga and Coherent Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Dosing Study.

Author: Streeter CC1,2,3,4,5,6, Gerbarg PL7, Whitfield TH8, Owen L1, Johnston J1, Silveri MM1,3,5, Gensler M1, Faulkner CL1, Mann C1, Wixted M1, Hernon AM1, Nyer MB3,9, Brown ER10, Jensen JE3,5
1 Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine , Boston, MA.
2 Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine , Boston, MA.
3 Department of Psychiatry, Harvard School of Medicine , Boston, MA.
4 Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center , Boston, MA.
5 Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital , Belmont, MA.
6 Department of Psychiatry, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital , Bedford, MA.
7 Department of Psychiatry, New York Medical College , Valhalla, NY.
8 Biostatistical Solutions, Boston, MA.
9 Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital , Boston MA.
10 Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons , New York, NY.
Conference/Journal: J Altern Complement Med.
Date published: 2017 Mar
Other: Volume ID: 23 , Issue ID: 3 , Pages: 201-207 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0140. Epub 2017 Feb 16. , Word Count: 282

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to assess the effects of an intervention of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing at five breaths per minute on depressive symptoms and to determine optimal intervention yoga dosing for future studies in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD).

METHODS: Subjects were randomized to the high-dose group (HDG) or low-dose group (LDG) for a 12-week intervention of three or two intervention classes per week, respectively. Eligible subjects were 18-64 years old with MDD, had baseline Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) scores ≥14, and were either on no antidepressant medications or on a stable dose of antidepressants for ≥3 months. The intervention included 90-min classes plus homework. Outcome measures were BDI-II scores and intervention compliance.

RESULTS: Fifteen HDG (Mage = 38.4 ± 15.1 years) and 15 LDG (Mage = 34.7 ± 10.4 years) subjects completed the intervention. BDI-II scores at screening and compliance did not differ between groups (p = 0.26). BDI-II scores declined significantly from screening (24.6 ± 1.7) to week 12 (6.0 ± 3.8) for the HDG (-18.6 ± 6.6; p < 0.001), and from screening (27.7 ± 2.1) to week 12 (10.1 ± 7.9) in the LDG (-17.7 ± 9.3; p < 0.001). There were no significant differences between groups, based on response (i.e., >50% decrease in BDI-II scores; p = 0.65) for the HDG (13/15 subjects) and LDG (11/15 subjects) or remission (i.e., number of subjects with BDI-II scores <14; p = 1.00) for the HDG (14/15 subjects) and LDG (13/15 subjects) after the 12-week intervention, although a greater number of subjects in the HDG had 12-week BDI-II scores ≤10 (p = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: During this 12-week intervention of yoga plus coherent breathing, depressive symptoms declined significantly in patients with MDD in both the HDG and LDG. Both groups showed comparable compliance and clinical improvements, with more subjects in the HDG exhibiting BDI-II scores ≤10 at week 12.

KEYWORDS: Iyengar; breathing; depression; dosing; randomized; yoga

PMID: 28296480 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2016.0140