Tai Chi Relieves Depression

Depression Latest Research


Get Happy: Tai Chi Can Help Relieve Depression in Seniors

Medication falls short in managing depression in as many as two out of three older adults. That's why researchers are excited about a small but groundbreaking study showing that doing tai chi can boost treatment effectiveness in seniors. Tai chi is a gentle, easy exercise that uses slow movement, controlled breathing, and meditation to achieve benefits.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), looked at 73 depressed people, age 60+, who experienced only minimal relief from taking antidepressants. Each participant was evaluated and assigned randomly to one of two groups: a two-hour weekly tai chi session or a health education class. Both groups continued to take their medication.

The findings after 10 weeks? Those taking the tai chi class showed dramatic improvement in mood, quality of life, memory, cognition, and overall energy. People in the other group improved, but to a lesser degree. The study appeared in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

This is the first study to demonstrate the benefits of using tai chi to help manage late-life depression.  Untreated, depression is especially dangerous in the elderly, because it can worsen other health problems.


Lavretsky H, Alstein LL, Olmstead RE, Ercoli LM, Riparetti-Brown M, St. Cyr N, Irwin MR. Complementary Use of Tai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2011;19(10):839-50.