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Yoga has become ubiquitous. In fact, it is difficult to find a community that doesn’t offer classes ranging from “flow” and “hot” yoga to those with nearly unpronounceable names. Tracing roots back more than 5,000 years, yoga is an array of techniques or practices aimed at integrating mind, body, and spirit to promote mindfulness, personal exploration, and a compassionate relationship between body and self.
Marisa Silveri, PhD, director of McLean’s Neuroimaging Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health, is currently examining the effects of yoga in depressed adults, in collaboration with Boston University’s Chris C. Streeter, MD. Promising results prompted her to wonder if depressed adolescents might similarly benefit from yoga.
“One in four adolescents will experience a major depressive episode during high school,” said Silveri. “Untreated depression can last months, putting kids at significant risk for suicide, substance use, and other dangers.”
With support from the John W. Alden Trust and the Mental Insight Foundation, Silveri’s team is using neuroimaging, Fitbits, and clinical and cognitive assessments to evaluate teens with major depressive disorder after three months of twice-weekly yoga provided by McLean’s Manager of Fitness Kate McHugh. This study will provide important insight into whether this accessible, natural, and safe intervention might improve depression in teens.