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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Yoga to decrease depression among depressed pregnant patients


Depression is a prominent cause of global morbidity, and one of the most common medical conditions during pregnancy. Prenatal depression can lead to detrimental outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum depression. Screening for depression is recommended at least once during the perinatal period. However, even after a diagnosis of depression, several barriers to treatment exist, including cost and patient opposition to treatment. This literature review examines the effectiveness of yoga practice in pregnant women who are depressed or have depressive symptoms. Five research articles published within the last five years were selected that support a yoga practice innovation for prenatal depression management. The utility of yoga is demonstrated in these articles in clinically depressed pregnant women and pregnant women with symptoms of depression or anxiety. A yoga practice protocol shown to be effective in prenatal depression was replicated, and based on that protocol, this paper proposes that clinics that care for depressed pregnant women employ an evidence-based yoga intervention spanning twelve weeks with a minimum of twice weekly yoga practice. Research has shown that yoga practice is safe, efficacious, practical, and decreases prenatal depressive symptoms. Future research should include the diverse demographics of socioeconomic status, prenatal care access, and ethnicity of depressed pregnant women to strengthen the data supporting yoga practice for prenatal depression management.

Faculty advisor: Lorraine Evangelista, Ph.D. - Program in Nursing Science

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