The relationship between yoga and depression can be difficult to understand. One of the main symptoms of depression is apathy around most activities. Practicing yoga provides many benefits to those who suffer from depression.
After depression is diagnosed, a combination of psychological and pharmacological treatment is started. However, its high prevalence plus the possible side effects of antidepressants have led to a boom in complimentary therapies. It includes yoga.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that predominantly presents with emotional symptoms. It is also characterized by the presence of other cognitive and somatic imbalances. Thereby, it is an imbalance that affects people both psychologically and physically. It especially affects the emotional plane.
The symptoms of severe depression, depending on how they manifest, may include:
- Emotional: anhedonia, irritability, subjective feelings of discomfort, feelings of uselessness or guilt, loss of interest or joy from performing most activities as well as repeated thoughts of death.
- Cognitive: decreased ability to concentrate and make decisions.
- Somatic: weight loss or increase without cure, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor irritation or retardation, and fatigue or lack of energy.
Depression can vary. It depends on the intensity and frequency with which the symptoms manifest. Their effects on the social, work, or family life of a person with depression vary. It can also be temporary or permanent and can cause partial or total disability.
How does depression chemically affect the brain?
As we can see, a depressed person is affected throughout the body. It does not just manifest itself in low self-esteem or chronic fatigue – it can lead to suicide.
This serious disorder affects many different neurotransmitters (cells that help the brain’s neurons communicate with each other):
- Noradrenaline: a hormone that responds to stress. That is, it prepares the body to deal with a threatening situation. Constantly being in a state of combat weakens the immune system and promotes the risk of suffering from cancer or diseases such as depression or anxiety.
- Dopamine: a lack of dopamine is related to apathy, fatigue, mood swings and chronic boredom. It also reduces the sensations of reward and joy.
- Serotonin: a reduction in serotonin can lead to depression. It creates a lack of enthusiasm, lack of appetite and fatigue, as well as changes in body temperature and social behavior.
What does yoga provide?
Now that we know how depression works, we can appreciate the benefits of yoga in relation to this disease. Practicing yoga is more than just physical exercise. It involves the mental and spiritual stage. In fact, it comes from the term “yuj”, which in Sanskrit means yoke or union. It is harmony between body, mind and spirit. Are you starting to see the relationship between yoga and depression?
Practicing yoga helps us to know ourselves better, both mentally and physically. It allows us to explore the deepest corners of our being. All this through postures (asanas), breathing and mantras (lights and words).
“My joy is inside me, not out there. Only I have power at every moment. ”
Humans are multidimensional. We are not just symptoms or thoughts, but rather the fruit of their interactions. Yoga teaches us to harmonize our ideas, behaviors, mindsets, memories and body systems. We can live in peace when these elements of ourselves are in balance. This organic balance is where yoga and depression meet.
The connection between yoga and depression
Yoga comes from India. It simulates the production of proteins that are responsible for repairing neurons. This leads to an increase in neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to create and change neuronal connections, due to our experiences and learning.
During yoga, our serotonin and dopamine levels are also regulated, which increases the flow of blood to the brain and triggers endorphins. All of this helps to improve our mood naturally.
The various asanas strengthen our musculoskeletal system. They increase the flexibility of our muscles and make them stronger. The cruciate ligaments, tendons and facade ligaments also build their strength.
Practicing yoga promotes a state of relaxation, allowing us to sleep better and deeper.
Practicing yoga improves emotional symptoms
The main symptoms of depression are related to emotions. The good news is that yoga can affect them directly. It reduces their intensity and offers effects immediately.
- It promotes a state of relaxation and calm. Doing certain asanas creates a nice sensation of well-being in the body. Yoga stimulates different parts of the body and helps to improve the mood.
- Yoga fights stress and anxiety. Slow and deep breathing helps us to reach mental and emotional peace. Meditation and concentration on different parts of the body allow us to reduce our levels of stress and anxiety. This also reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system.
- It enhances the connection with our inner world. Yoga allows us to change our negative thoughts into positive ones. It helps us control the more difficult and complex emotions. Irritability is reduced, as well as feelings of despair and apathy.
Yoga has become an authentic holistic exercise to combat depression and other diseases. Thereby, yoga and depression are related. Although yoga has many benefits, it is best to be careful. We should not attribute the improvement or cure of depression to just yoga. It can not replace pharmacological or psychological treatments, but can support them.