Across the country, health and human service providers have shown a growing interest in using yoga as an option for treating people who experience mental health problems. But a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that while there are some promising benefits to using yoga, there isn’t yet enough evidence to support the practice as a standalone solution for improving mental health and well-being.
“I really wanted to know if yoga is something we should be suggesting to people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression, or anxiety or various traumas. What does the evidence really say?,” said Rebecca Macy, a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors who headed up the study at the UNC School of Social Work.
For their study, Macy and her colleagues analyzed 13 literature reviews to conduct a meta-review of 185 articles published between 2000 and 2013. Overall, the researchers found that yoga holds potential promise for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma at least in the short term.
The study, published recently in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, also suggested that clinicians and service providers consider recommending yoga as an intervention in addition to other “evidence-based and well-established treatments,” including psychotherapy and medication.