Improve Major Depression with Qigong Practice
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“One of the best things we can do for depressives is to give them hope. And there is abundant hope. Qigong provides a viable, practical, and economical solution to depression. It can also be used alongside traditional treatment methods.” – Sifu Anthony Korahais
Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).
Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. Mindful Movement practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi have been found to be effective for depression. Research has been accumulating. So, it is important to step back and examine what has been learned regarding the application of Qigong practice for major depression.
In today’s Research News article “Qigong-Based Therapy for Treating Adults with Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427394/), Guo and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Qigong practice in the treatment of major depression.
They reported on seven controlled trials. The research found that Qigong practice produces a significant reduction in depression compared to either active or passive control conditions. Qigong practice was also found to increase the response and remission rates for major depression. The research, however, did not identify how Qigong practice produces this relief of major depression. This will be for future research to investigate.
It is important to note that Qigong is not strenuous, involves slow gentle movements, and is safe, having no appreciable side effects, it is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is also inexpensive, can be practiced virtually anywhere, at any time, alone or in groups, and does not require a trained therapist. Hence Qigong practice would appear to be an excellent non-pharmacological treatment for major depression.
So, improve major depression with Qigong practice.
“Qi Gong is one path for overcoming depression that has no harmful side effects. Furthermore, it can coincide with any other course of intervention or treatment.” – Lee Holden
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Lijuan Guo, Zhaowei Kong, Yanjie Zhang. Qigong-Based Therapy for Treating Adults with Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Mar; 16(5): 826. Published online 2019 Mar 7. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16050826
This current meta-analysis review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of Qigong-based therapy on individuals with major depressive disorder. Six electronic databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, and Wangfang) were employed to retrieve potential articles that were randomized controlled trials. The synthesized effect sizes (Hedges’ g) were computerized to explore the effectiveness of Qigong-based therapy. Additionally, a moderator analysis was performed based on the control type. The pooled results indicated that Qigong-based therapy has a significant benefit on depression severity (Hedges’ g = −0.64, 95% CI −0.92 to −0.35, p < 0. 001, I2= 41.73%). Specifically, Qigong led to significantly reduced depression as compared to the active control groups (Hedges’ g = −0.47, 95% CI −0.81 to −0.12, p = 0.01, I2 = 22.75%) and the passive control groups (Hedges’ g = −0.80, 95% CI −1.23 to −0.37, p < 0.01, I2 = 48.07%), respectively. For studies which reported categorical outcomes, Qigong intervention showed significantly improved treatment response rates (OR = 4.38, 95% CI 1.26 to 15.23, p = 0.02) and remission rates (OR = 8.52, 95% CI 1.91 to 37.98, p= 0.005) in comparison to the waitlist control group. Conclusions: Qigong-based exercises may be effective for alleviating depression symptoms in individuals with major depressive disorder. Future well-designed, randomized, controlled trials with large sample sizes are needed to confirm these findings.