Friday, August 14, 2020

Yoga May Help Relieve Anxiety Symptoms, But CBT Is More Effective

Yoga may help relieve symptoms for patients with generalized anxiety disorder, but group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) should remain a first-line treatment, suggests a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

Naomi M. Simon, M.D., M.Sc., of New York University Grossman School of Medicine and colleagues compared the six-month response rates of 155 patients who were randomized to 12 weeks of Kundalini yoga, CBT, or education about stress. Stress education included lectures on the physical and psychological impact of stress, the effects of lifestyle behaviors such as smoking or drinking alcohol on stress, and the importance of exercise and diet. All interventions were delivered to groups of four to six patients by two instructors during 12 120-minute sessions. Patients also had 20 minutes of homework each day. The researchers measured the patients’ response using the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement Scale, which assesses a patient’s functioning, before and after initiating treatment. Patients whose scores were 1 or 2 were considered to have responded to treatment.

At three months, response rates were 70.8% for the CBT group, 54.2% for the yoga group, and 33% for the stress-education group. At six months, the response rate was 76.7% for the CBT group, 63.2% for the yoga group, and 48% for the stress education group.

The researchers wrote that overall, this finding confirms the effectiveness of group CBT for general anxiety disorder as a first-line treatment, but that Kundalini yoga may have some short-term anti-anxiety benefits for some patients.

“Given the increasing costs of health care and barriers to accessing trained mental health care professionals, … yoga may still have a role to play in [generalized anxiety disorder] management as an intervention that is more easily accessible,” the researchers wrote. “Future studies should identify individual characteristics that make a patient more prone to respond to yoga vs. CBT, including treatment preference and attitudes toward mental health care, which could inform how yoga might be integrated into a stepped-care personalized approach to anxiety disorders.”

For more related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Specific Exercise Characteristics Linked to Better Mental Health.”

(Image: iStock/fizkes)


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