Meditation can help alleviate severe depression in people who do not fully respond to drugs, reports a new study.
Researchers found significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety in medicated patients with major depressive disorder who participated in the yogic breathing technique.
The Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped those suffering from depression and on medication when compared to those who took medicines but did not do any breathing exercise.
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"The study found a promising, lower-cost therapy that could potentially serve as an effective, non-drug approach for patients battling depression," said Anup Sharma, doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, in the US.
The meditation technique, which is practiced in both groups and at home, includes a series of sequential, rhythm-specific breathing exercises that bring people into a deep, restful and meditative state.
It involves slow and calm breaths alternated with fast and stimulating breaths.
Patients, who practised Sudarshan Kriya yoga, also showed a significantly greater improvement in mood, interest in activities, energy levels.
It also brought down suicidal thoughts and feelings of guilt among other symptoms of depression.
"Sudarshan Kriya yoga gives people an active method to experience a deep meditative state that's easy to learn and incorporate in diverse settings," Sharma added.
Past studies suggest that yoga and other controlled breathing techniques can potentially adjust the nervous system to reduce stress hormones.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.