8 posts tagged “major depressive disorder”

Living with depression? Grab your mat: 5-minute yoga video with Jamie from PatientsLikeMe

Posted June 7th, 2017 by

Studies have shown that practicing yoga can have positive effects on people with depression. So we tapped Jamie – a PatientsLikeMe research assistant who is also a certified yoga instructor – to show us some poses with mental health in mind. She put together a 5-minute, beginner-level flow that you can try at home. (As always, check with your doctor before trying a new type of exercise.)

Yoga for depression

“I practice yoga to manage my mental and physical health, and to bring mindfulness to my day,” Jamie says. Don’t speak yogi? Here’s a breakdown of the poses (and phrases) featured in the video, plus some of their perks:

  • Pranayama – The practice of purposefully controlling or regulating your breath. Benefits: Settles the mind and body in preparation to practice yoga.
  • Dirga (pronounced “deerga”) – A form of pranayama, this three-part breath involves inhaling into your lower belly (with your right hand on your belly), then into your diaphragm or midsection of the lungs, and finally into the chest (with your left hand on your chest) – and reversing this flow when you exhale. Benefits: Helps increase oxygen to the heart and lung to counteract shallow breathing – which can occur with depression or anxiety, frequent sitting and poor posture.
  • Cat/cow – A pair of simple poses done on your hands and knees. For “cow,” inhale as your belly drops and your gaze rises, and for “cat,” exhale as your spine rounds and your chin comes to your chest. Benefits: This flow brings awareness and energy to the entire length of the body while also creating flexibility in the spine.
  • Downward dog, or “downdog” – Another simple pose, done on your hands and feet, that involves the entire body and lengthens the back from head to foot as you bend at the waist. Benefits: It’s gently energizing and balancing for the mind and body.

Yoga for depression

  • Sun salutation A, or “sun A” – One of the easiest and most common sequences in yoga, which can be done at any pace to be more or less energizing. It involves reaching upward toward the sky, then folding forward to touch your shins or the floor, stepping back into a plank pose, lowering your body to the floor, then pressing up with your arms and chest into a “cobra” pose, and finally, returning to a tabletop (hands and knees) and a “downdog” bend – repeating the sequence as needed. Benefits: Gets blood flowing and builds energy during your yoga practice.
  • Locust – Laying face-down and raising your chest, arms, lower legs and feet off the floor. Variations include keeping your arms at your sides and hands reaching straight back (think: “Superman” style) or interlacing your hands behind your lower back for even more of a stretch. Benefits: Helps open the chest to combat poor posture or slumped shoulders, which can come from feeling withdrawn or physically closed off – common symptoms of depression.

Yoga for depression

  • Plow – A back stretch that involves laying on your back and reaching your legs and feet overhead, touching your toes to the floor above your head. Benefits: It quiets the nervous system, relieves irritability and serves as a full body renewal.
  • Supine bound angle pose – A hip-opening pose where you lay on your back with your feet together and knees apart (think: “butterfly” style). Keeping your hands on your chest and belly helps you focus on breathing and relaxation. Benefits: This restorative pose can relax the mind and body.

The latest yoga/depression research

More than 15 million Americans practice yoga, and there’s increasing evidence of yoga’s physical and psychological benefits.

New research published in Psychological Medicine is the largest study of the yoga/depression connection to date. The study involved 122 adults with moderate depression. Half of them were randomly assigned to try hatha yoga (most forms of yoga practiced in the West), while continuing treatment with anti-depressant medication. After 10 weeks, the yoga group didn’t show significant improvement over the “control” group, but after six months, 51 percent of those who took yoga (about three sessions per week) experienced a 50 percent reduction in symptoms (compared with a 31 percent decrease in symptoms in the non-yoga group).

The takeaway? Yoga may not alleviate depression symptoms right away, but the benefits may build when yoga is practiced regularly over a longer term.

On PatientsLikeMe

Hundreds of patients report using more than a dozen different forms of yoga as part of their treatment plan. See how patients with major depressive disorder are using yoga and how they rate its effectiveness.

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World Health Day 2017: #LetsTalk about depression and mental health

Posted April 7th, 2017 by

World Health Day 2017

Today is World Health Day! This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to spark discussions about mental health with their campaign called “Depression: Let’s talk.”

Depression affects more than 300 million people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries – but less than half of people with depression (even less than 10 percent in many countries) receive treatment.

“The stigma surrounding mental illness, including depression, remains a barrier to people seeking help throughout the world,” according to WHO. “Talking about depression, whether with a family member, friend or medical professional; in larger groups, for example in schools, the workplace and social settings; or in the public domain, in the news media, blogs or social media, helps break down this stigma, ultimately leading to more people seeking help.”

In honor of World Health Day, WHO encourages you to use the hashtags #LetsTalk and #depression, as well their predesigned apps and graphics to spread awareness over social media today.

World Health Day 2017

Don’t go it alone

WHO suggests talking to someone you trust about your feelings. “Being emotionally mature and authentic to those who are close to you can be an absolute game changer,” says Matthew Johnstone, a writer/illustrator who produced this video for WHO called “I had a black dog, his name was depression.” “The most important thing to remember is that, no matter how bad it gets, if you take the right steps, talk to the right people, ‘black dog days’ will pass.”

So who are the “right people” to talk to? The University of Michigan Depression Center (UMDC) says it’s important to discuss your depression with your healthcare providers. “Emotional problems such as depression are not always evident to healthcare professionals focused on physical ailments,” they say. When you make a list of topics to raise with your doctor, include your depressive symptoms or mental health concerns, just as you would discuss any physical symptoms disrupting your life. Although doctors and the public rarely discuss it, depression can also go hand in hand with many other health conditions and it’s important to treat.

Beyond doctors, UMDC says whom you share with and how to do it is a personal choice. Their Depression Toolkit outlines some pros and cons of opening up and advice for choosing confidants. “Remember: quality is more important than quantity—even one confidant is a great asset.” Seeking support anonymously through online forums (like our Mental Health and Behavior community) is a good option, they say.

World Health Day 2017

Tips for talking

Heads Up Guys, an organization that’s raising awareness about depression in men, encourages you to think of someone who:

  • You’re comfortable with and trust
  • Is likely to understand
  • Will take your situation seriously

“Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be an intense conversation that you dread starting,” they say. “It’s helpful to keep things causal – go for a walk, grab a coffee or chat with someone while working.”

These candid conversations starters from Heads Up Guys might help:

  • “I’ve been having a really hard time lately. Getting really stressed out. Mind if I bounce some ideas off you?”
  • “I’ve been feeling off for a while now. Have you ever found yourself in a funk that was hard to get out of?”
  • “I made an appointment with my doctor the other day and he thinks I might be suffering from depression. I don’t really know much about depression – how about you?”
  • “I’m really falling behind on some chores. When are you getting groceries next? Maybe we can go together.”
  • “I want to get out more these days but I don’t have the energy. If you can think of something to do and plan it out, I’ll be more likely to get out of the house.”

If you’re feeling suicidal, talk with someone right away. Speak with a family member, friend or doctor, or dial 911 or one of these hotlines.

On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 39,000 patients have major depressive disorder (MDD). Of those, about 17,000 say MDD is their primary condition. Every day, members talk about symptoms, treatments and ideas for coping with depression in the Mental Health forum, so join the discussion today.

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