Am Fam Physician. 2019 May 15 ;99(10):620-627. PMID: 31083878
Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation.
Many people with depression or anxiety turn to nonpharmacologic and nonconventional interventions, including exercise, yoga, meditation, tai chi, or qi gong. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews have shown that these interventions can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. As an adjunctive treatment, exercise seems most helpful for treatment-resistant depression, unipolar depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Yoga as monotherapy or adjunctive therapy shows positive effects, particularly for depression. As an adjunctive therapy, it facilitates treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder. Tai chi and qi gong may be helpful as adjunctive therapies for depression, but effects are inconsistent. As monotherapy or an adjunctive therapy, mindfulness-based meditation has positive effects on depression, and its effects can last for six months or more. Although positive findings are less common in people with anxiety disorders, the evidence supports adjunctive use. There are no apparent negative effects of mindfulness-based interventions, and their general health benefits justify their use as adjunctive therapy for patients with depression and anxiety disorders.