Tai Chi and Qigong
What is it?
Tai Chi and Qigong are traditional Chinese exercises which involve slow movements and meditation. They are quite similar as Tai Chi was developed from Qigong.
How does it work?
More research is needed to understand how Tai Chi and Qigong might help depression. It is thought to create self-awareness and stillness of the mind. This may trigger natural health recovery mechanisms in the body.
People who exercise with others will have more social contact. The social contact involved in group classes might also be helpful.
Is it effective?
There is very little scientific evidence on Tai Chi for the treatment of depression.
One study has compared Tai Chi with no treatment in people with depression. The study had a small number of older adults in it. Tai Chi was effective in reducing depressive symptoms.
There is very little scientific evidence on qigong for the treatment of depression. More studies on both Tai Chi and Qigong are needed.
Are there any disadvantages?
Compared to most types of exercise, Tai Chi and Qigong are quite gentle and so are suitable for older people.
Where do you get it?
Teachers of Tai Chi and Qigong are listed in the Yellow Pages.
Tai Chi may prove useful in the treatment for depression in older adults, but more research is needed before recommending it as a treatment.
There is not enough good evidence at this stage to recommend Qigong as a treatment for depression.
- Chou K-L, Lee PWH, Yu ECS, Macfarlane D, Cheng Y-H, Chan SSC, Chi I. Effect of Tai Chi on depressive symptoms amongst Chinese older patients with depressive disorders: A randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2004; 1105-1107.
- Oh B, Choi SM, Inamori A, Rosenthal D, Yeung A. Effects of qigong on depression: a systemic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013; 134737.
Last updated and reviewed: 16 March 2015