Yoga improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, study shows

Yoga improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, a condition associated with chronic nervousness and restlessness. This suggests that the popular practice may be helpful in treating anxiety in some people.

A new study by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that yoga was significantly more effective than standard stress management training in generalized anxiety disorder, but not effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the gold standard of structured conversation therapy that helps patients Recognize negative thinking to better respond to challenges.

Yoga helps with generalized anxiety disorder, study shows

“Generalized anxiety disorder is a very common condition, yet many are unwilling or unable to seek evidence-based treatments,” said lead study author Naomi M. Simon, MD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health . “Our results show that yoga, which is safe and widely used, can improve symptoms in some people with this disorder and could be a valuable tool in an overall treatment plan”.

For the study, 226 men and women with generalized anxiety disorder were randomly assigned to three groups – either CBT, Kundalini Yoga or standardized control therapy for stress management.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) showed the best results

Try relaxation techniques and yoga against inner restlessness

After three months, both CBT and yoga were found to be significantly more effective than managing stress for anxiety. Fifty-four percent of those who practiced yoga met the response criteria for meaningful improvement in symptoms, compared with 33 percent in the stress management group. Of those treated with CBT, 71 percent met these symptom improvement criteria.

However, after six months of follow-up, the response to CBT was still significantly better than stress management (the control therapy), while yoga was no longer significantly better, suggesting that CBT may have longer-lasting anxiety-reducing effects.

The study included an evidence-based protocol for CBT treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, including psychoeducation, cognitive interventions (with an emphasis on identifying and adjusting maladaptive emotions and worrying thoughts), and muscle relaxation techniques.

Kundalini Yoga included postures, breathing techniques, relaxation exercises, yoga theory and meditation or mindfulness practice.

The control group for stress management training received lectures on the physiological, psychological and medical effects of stress, as well as the anxiolytic effects of lifestyle behavior, such as reducing alcohol and smoking, and the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. The homework consisted of listening to teaching materials on stress, diet and lifestyle.

Each treatment was carried out in groups of three to six participants in weekly two-hour sessions over a period of 12 weeks, with 20 minutes of homework assigned daily.

Try yoga against anxiety

Yoga improves symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, study shows

“Many people are already looking for complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety and anxiety, including yoga,” says Dr. Simon. “This study suggests that, at least in the short term, it would be important for people with generalized anxiety disorder to try yoga to see if it works for them. Yoga is easily accessible and has a number of health benefits ”.

According to Dr. Simon’s future research should aim to understand who is most likely to benefit from yoga for generalized anxiety disorder to help providers better personalize treatment recommendations.

reference: Naomi M. Simon, Stefan G. Hofmann, David Rosenfield et al. Efficacy of Yoga vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs Stress Education for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 2020 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2496

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