Study: Yoga Can Help Reduce Symptoms of Depression

August 17, 2017

11:30 am

Fatigue, irritability, reduced appetite, back problems, anxiety and the inability to make decisions are subtle symptoms of depression. Any founder that has been through the startup journey will tell you that these signs are more common and reoccurring than people will admit.

In a 2015 blog post Brad Feld of Techstars, wrote “Bringing Depression Out of the Shadows” to which he openly discussed his constant struggle with depression, a topic that is consistently overlooked in the startup world. In May 2017, also mental health month, Techstars opened the dialogue about mental illness and the real struggle founders face while building a business.  Just know you’re not alone.

Most people, especially men, are afraid to talk to anyone or seek professional help for depression, or any onset of a mental illness, for fear of appearing weak, unstable or incapable of doing the job. The fact is that good mental health is part of the puzzle of success, and becoming aware of symptoms of depression, general anxiety or other illnesses is the a critical step to healing thy self and preparing for the next level of the business.

While people may consider talking with someone after this post to start healing, in the meantime, researchers suggest to grab a yoga mat and find your OM.

At their annual convention, the American Psychology Association released multiple studies about the positive effects of two types yoga, Hatha and Bikram (hot yoga), shown to lessen the symptoms of depression.

Lindsey Hopkins, PhD, of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center who focused on Hatha yoga said her subjects, 23 male veterans, who participated in yoga classes two times a week showed a “significant reduction in depression symptoms after the eight weeks.”

“Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing. But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health,” Hopkins said.

Another study by Sarah Shallit, MA, of Alliant University in San Francisco, 52 women age 25-45 participated in Bikram yoga twice a week for 8-weeks and too showed “reduced symptoms of depress compared with the control group.”

Participants also reported secondary positive side effects of this practice including improved quality of life, optimism, and cognitive and physical functioning.

While the yoga mat isn’t the end all to improving one’s mental health, it’s certainly can be paired with professional help.

“Clearly, yoga is not a cure-all. However, based on empirical evidence, there seems to be a lot of potential,” Hopkins said.

Read more about improving your mental health at TechCo

If you are feeling symptoms of depression or know someone who needs help, please call a professional.

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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