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.
Tai Chi and Qigong might help to improve mood in many ways: they promote mindfulness and relaxation, they are a form of exercise, and people who practice in a class may have more social contact.
Some people believe that Qigong helps to cultivate and balance ‘qi’ (chi) or ‘life energy’. This belief is not supported by western medicine.
There is not much scientific evidence on Tai Chi and Qigong for the treatment of depression. One meta-analysis of multiple studies found some evidence that Qigong may help to reduce depression symptoms, but no evidence that Tai Chi was effective. Not all of the people in these studies had been diagnosed with depression, so it is unclear whether these treatments are effective for people with clinical depression.
Most people who have participated in studies looking at Tai Chi and Qigong have been older adults, so it is unclear whether these treatments are effective for people of other ages.
Tai Chi and Qigong are quite gentle types of exercise and should be suitable for most people.
Tai Chi and Qigong classes may be found in the Yellow Pages or by searching online. There are also books and videos available online for people to follow at home.
There is not enough good evidence at this stage to recommend Tai Chi or Qigong as a treatment for depression.
Last updated and reviewed: 1 May 2019