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J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013 Oct;17(4):397-403. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 May 3.

Yoga and social support reduce prenatal depression, anxiety and cortisol.

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Touch Research Institute, University of Miami Medical School, PO Box 016820, Miami, FL 33101, USA; Fielding Graduate University, USA. Electronic address:


The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of yoga (physical activity) versus social support (verbal activity) on prenatal and postpartum depression. Ninety-two prenatally depressed women were randomly assigned to a yoga or a social support control group at 22 weeks gestation. The yoga group participated in a 20-min group session (only physical poses) once per week for 12 weeks. The social support group (a leaderless discussion group) met on the same schedule. At the end of the first and last sessions the yoga group reported less depression, anxiety, anger, back and leg pain as compared to the social support group. At the end of the last session the yoga group and the support group did not differ. They both had lower depression (CES-D), anxiety (STAI), and anger (STAXI) scores and improved relationship scores. In addition, cortisol levels decreased for both groups following each session. Estriol and progesterone levels decreased after the last session. At the postpartum follow-up assessment depression and anxiety levels were lower for both groups.


Prenatal depression; Social support; Yoga

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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