Yoga for anxiety and depression – a literature review

Published date12 February 2020
Date12 February 2020
AuthorChandra Nanthakumar
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Mental health,Mental health education
Yoga for anxiety and depression a
literature review
Chandra Nanthakumar
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigatethe effectiveness of classical yoga not only as a
complementarytherapy but also as a viable option in the managementof anxiety and depression.
Design/methodology/approach Papers were retrieved using a combination of databases including
Findings The findings revealed that the practice of yoga as complementary therapy and also as a
stand-alonetherapy is effective in managingand reducing anxiety and depression.
Research limitations/implications All the studies reviewed in this paper were methodologically
limited in terms of samplesize, sample heterogeneity, yoga interventionstyles, duration of practice and
teaching methods.Further research is needed to address key areas such as how much yoga is needed
per week, durationof each class and specifically the types of asanas and pranayamato practise to bring
about changein the anxiety and depressive states.
Practical implications This review has providedsubstantial insight to yoga as a complementary and/
or stand-alone therapy for anxietyand depression which is much needed in this contemporary society.
The Malaysian communityespecially teenagers and adults, should considerincorporating yoga as part
of their daily routine to experienceand reap its benefits. It is suggested that yoga be includedas part of
the physical educationcurriculum in learning institutions and as a recreationalactivity for staff in public
and privateorganisations.
Originality/value The findings of this review provide an avenuefor victims to cope with and manage
anxietyand depression through the practice of yoga.
Keywords Depression, Anxiety, Intervention of yoga
Paper type Literature Review
The number of people in the Malaysian community suffering from anxiety and depression is
on the rise. According to the statistics of the 2017 National Health and Morbidity Survey, 29
per cent of Malaysians suffer fromsome form of depression and anxiety disorder compared
to a mere 12 per cent in 2011 (The Star online, 2018). It appears that three in every ten
adults of age 16years and above are inflicted with some sort of mental health problems,
with depression being the most common one (Wan Mustapha, 2018). The common
diagnoses for anxiety in adults are separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder,
generalised anxiety disorder and specific phobia; whereas depression diagnoses include
major depressive disorderand dysthymic disorder (Garber and Weersing, 2010).
In the recent findings, Malaysian teenagers aged 13-17 years have been diagnosed with
mental health disorders; the statistics being one in five suffering from depression, while two
in five suffering from anxiety (Lee et al.,2018). The Healthy Mind Programme, which was
implemented by the Malaysian Education Ministry in 2017, revealed that out of 284,516
students who participated, approximately 5,100 students received various forms of
intervention from school counsellors to address the issue. These statistics and figures are
disconcerting because if they continueto escalate, it will eventually become a serious social
Chandra Nanthakumar is
based at the Faculty of
Foundation Studies, HELP
University, Kuala Lumpur,
Received 27 September 2019
Revised 7 January 2020
Accepted 7 January 2020
DOI 10.1108/JMHTEP-09-2019-0050 VOL. 15 NO. 3 2020, pp. 157-169, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1755-6228 jTHE JOURNAL OF MENTAL HEALTHTRAINING, EDUCATION AND PRACTICE jPAGE 157

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