Research Highlight

Yoga linked to cure for depression

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.156 Published online 25 November 2016

Sudarshan Kriya yoga, a breathing-based meditation technique, might help alleviate severe depression in people who do not fully respond to antidepressant treatments, researchers report1.

The study at the University of Pennsylvania bolsters the science behind the use of this ancient Indian practice of controlled yogic breathing. The randomized controlled pilot study led by Anup Sharma in the department of psychiatry enrolled 25 patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), who were depressed despite antidepressant medication.

After two months of practicing yoga, "significant improvement" was found in symptoms of depression and anxiety in medicated patients compared to a control group under medication but who did not practice the yoga. 

"Results of the pilot study suggest the feasibility and promise of Sudarshan Kriya as an add-on intervention for MDD patients who have not responded to antidepressants," the authors write.

A larger study is needed to evaluate how this intervention impacts brain structure and function in patients of major depression.


1. Sharma, A. et al. A breathing-based meditation intervention for patients with major depressive disorder following inadequate response to antidepressants: A randomized pilot study. J. Clin. Psychiatry (2016) doi: 10.4088/JCP.16m10819