Effects of Meditative Movements on Major Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Author: Zou L1, Yeung A2, Li C3, Wei GX4, Chen KW5, Kinser PA6, Chan JSM7, Ren Z8
1Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China. liyezou123@cuhk.edu.hk.
2Depression Clinical and Research Program, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA. ayeung@mgh.harvard.edu.
3Department of Health and Physical Education, The Education University of Hong Kong, Tai Po, NT, Hong Kong, China. cxli@eduhk.hk.
4Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China. weigx@psych.ac.cn.
5Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. kchen@umaryland.edu.
6Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA. kinserpa@vcu.edu.
7Department of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China. chansm5@hku.hk.
8Department of Physical Education, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China. rzb@szu.edu.cn.
Conference/Journal: J Clin Med.
Date published: 2018 Aug 1
Other: Volume ID: 7 , Issue ID: 8 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/jcm7080195. , Word Count: 231

BACKGROUND: Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga are recognized as the most popular complementary approaches for alleviating musculoskeletal pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing blood pressure. The therapeutic effects of these meditative movements for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) is yet to be determined. Therefore, we examined whether meditative movements (Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga) are effective for treating MDD. Seven electronic databases (SPORTDiscus, PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CNKI, and Wanfang) were used to search relevant articles. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) using Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga as intervention for MDD were considered for the meta-analysis (standardized mean difference: SMD).

RESULTS: Meta-analysis on 15 fair-to-high quality RCTs showed a significant benefit in favor of meditative movement on depression severity (SMD = -0.56, 95% CI -0.76 to -0.37, p < 0.001, I² = 35.76%) and on anxiety severity (SMD = -0.46, 95% CI -0.71 to -0.21, p < 0.001, I² = 1.17%). Meditative movement interventions showed significantly improved treatment remission rate (OR = 6.7, 95% CI 2.38 to 18.86, p < 0.001) and response rate (OR = 5.2, 95% CI 1.73 to 15.59, p < 0.001) over passive controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Emphasizing the therapeutic effects of meditative movements for treating MDD is critical because it may provide a useful alternative to existing mainstream treatments (drug therapy and psychotherapy) for MDD. Given the fact that meditative movements are safe and easily accessible, clinicians may consider recommending meditative movements for symptomatic management in this population.

KEYWORDS: depression; exercise; mindfulness/meditation; mood disorders; rehabilitation

PMID: 30071662 DOI: 10.3390/jcm7080195