Send to

Choose Destination
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;28(3):273-8. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2016.1175419. Epub 2016 May 13.

Serum cortisol and BDNF in patients with major depression-effect of yoga.

Author information

a Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education , Chennai , India ;
b NIMHANS Integrated Centre for Yoga, Department of Psychiatry , National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences , Hosur Road , Bangalore , 560029 India ;
c Department of Psychiatry , National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences , Bangalore , India ;
d North West Area Mental Health , Level 1, 130 Bell Street, Coburg , Melbourne , Victoria 3058 , Australia ;
e Department of Neurochemistry , National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences , Bangalore , India.


Depression is associated with low serum Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and elevated levels of serum cortisol. Yoga practices have been associated with antidepressant effects, increase in serum BDNF, and reduction in serum cortisol. This study examined the association between serum BDNF and cortisol levels in drug-naïve patients with depression treated with antidepressants, yoga therapy, and both. Fifty-four drug-naïve consenting adult outpatients with Major Depression (32 males) received antidepressants only (n = 16), yoga therapy only (n = 19), or yoga with antidepressants (n = 19). Serum BDNF andcortisol levels were obtained before and after 3 months using a sandwich ELISA method. One-way ANOVA, Chi-square test, and Pearson's correlation tests were used for analysis. The groups were comparable at baseline on most parameters. Significant improvement in depression scores and serum BDNF levels, and reduction in serum cortisol in the yoga groups, have been described in previous reports. A significant negative correlation was observed between change in BDNF (pre-post) and cortisol (pre-post) levels in the yoga-only group (r = -0.59, p = 0.008). In conclusion, yoga may facilitate neuroplasticity through stress reduction in depressed patients. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings and delineate the pathways for these effects.


BDNF; ELISA; Yoga; antidepressant; cortisol; depression

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center