Tai Chi and Depression

Of all the age groups who suffer from depression, it is the elderly that seem to have perhaps the hardest time dealing with it. Many are loath to take any kind of medication and often refuse to even admit that they are actually dealing with any form of depression at all, preferring to continue suffering in silence rather than seeking out any form of treatment. In March of 2011, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published a report concerning the use of Tai Chi similar to that taught in classes in Portland Oregon in the treatment of severe depression in the elderly.

This report came to the conclusion that the slow movements along with the breathing exercises and meditation that are all an integral part of Tai Chi Chuan can actually prove to be quite meaningful for those patients who are suffering from a number of chronic medical conditions. Chief among these medical conditions are fibromyalgia and arthritis, both of which are extremely prevalent among the elderly and are known to cause depression as the person will be in constant pain unless they are on medications.

More stuides on Tai Chi and Depression

A study of 112 seniors was recently conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, all of whom had been diagnosed with major to severe depression. The average age of those involved in the study was 70 and many had been suffering from depression for many years. As a part of this study, all patients were first treated with Lexapro (an antidepressant). Out of the group, 73 showed some improvement but tests showed that all still scored very high on the scales used to measure depression.

After the rest dropped out of the program, those who remained were then divided into two separate groups. One group began a ten week course of Tai Chi classes and the other took a health education class that included ten minutes of stretching. The classes were given once a week for two hours over the course of the entire ten weeks. At the end of the ten week period, each patient was then tested for depression as well as overall physical function, cognitive function and blood tests to check for inflammation.

Tai chi and depressionThe results of the test showed that those who took part in the Tai Chi classes showed marked improvement on the depression scales at the rate of 94 percent compared to only 77 percent of those who took the health classes. Even more importantly 65 of those who were took part in the Taiji courses exhibited complete remission as compared to 51 percent of those in the health class. Researchers feel that this might be a major breakthrough as severe depression in seniors can be extremely hard to treat.

Tai Chi and Depression Side-Note

As a side note, many feel that while the Tai Chi itself has the largest share of the credit for this high level of success, they also acknowledge that the social atmosphere may also contribute to the decreased level of depression. This may be in part due to the fact that many seniors tend to prefer to suffer by themselves and in silence.


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