Washington: If you are suffering from prenatal depression, yoga may be your way out, as a new study suggests that it helps reduce the severity of mood disorder in pregnant women.
Lead author Cynthia Battle, associate professor and a psychologist at Butler and Women and Infants said that she learned in prior research that depressed pregnant women are often reluctant to use medications and some also have difficulty engaging in individual psychotherapy. When she asked them what other treatments they might find appealing, some mentioned yoga.
A few small studies have also suggested that yoga and mindfulness-based approaches could help prevent or treat depression during pregnancy.
Battle's pilot study is an initial test of whether a 10-week program of prenatal yoga, structured to be similar to yoga programs available to pregnant women in many communities, could be feasible, acceptable, safe, and effective for mild to moderately depressed women.
In the study, which was not a blinded randomized controlled trial, the researchers worked with Rhode Island obstetricians and midwives to recruit 34 pregnant women with elevated depression symptoms. Women attended a program of prenatal yoga classes tailored for pregnant women by registered yoga instructors.
Though there was no control group to compare against, the study provides signs that prenatal yoga could be helpful, Battle said. The study data also showed that the more prenatal yoga pregnant women did, the more they benefitted psychologically. It's the first study showing a proportional association.
The researchers also measured significant changes in some attributes of mindfulness, which many researchers believe is one mechanism by which yoga may reduce depression. Mindfulness involves directing one's attention to the present moment, noticing thoughts, feelings, or sensations, and avoiding judgment of those experiences.
Women should consult a healthcare provider before pursuing any remedy for depression, the researchers noted.
The study is published in the journal Women's Health Issues.