Yoga could lessen prenatal depression

13 March 2015

A small pilot study has suggested that yoga during pregnancy could help reduce depression.

The research, conducted by a team at Brown University, Butler Hospital, and Women & Infants' Hospital, could help expectant mums who are often reluctant to use medications, and can be difficult to engage in individual psychotherapy. 

Lead author Dr Cynthia Battle, associate professor of psychiatry and human behaviour in the Alpert Medical School of Brown and a psychologist at Butler and Women & Infants, said the study is about trying to develop more options for women who experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy.

In the new study, published in the journal Women's Health Issues, the team worked with obstetricians and midwives to recruit 34 pregnant women with elevated depression symptoms. All participants attended a programme of prenatal yoga classes tailored towards pregnancy.

As well as the classes, women were also encouraged to practice yoga at home. During the ten-week study, researchers encouraged women to practice yoga and mindfulness at home, as well as during the classes. The team measured depressive symptoms in the women, participation in yoga classes, home yoga practice, and changes in mindfulness, again using a standardised questionnaire.

Though there was no control group to compare against, the study provides signs that prenatal yoga could be helpful, Dr Battle said. 

Posted by Phillip Briggs

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