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Int J Yoga. 2019 Jan-Apr;12(1):78-83. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_22_18.

Yogic Breathing Instruction in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Pilot Study.

Author information

1
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.
2
Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.
3
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.

Abstract

Aim:

This study aims to evaluate the feasibility and effects of instruction in yogic breathing techniques (Pranayama) in patients with treatment-resistant generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in UK secondary mental health services settings.

Materials and Methods:

Participants were adult primary or secondary care patients with a primary diagnosis of GAD (with or without comorbidity) and persistent anxiety symptoms of at least moderate intensity, despite prior treatment with two or more medications of proven efficacy. Patients participated in group-delivered yogic breathing training and practice for 12 weeks. Structured assessments were performed at baseline, after 1, 2, and 6 weeks of instruction, and at end-point. Participants also completed the antisaccade (emotional variant) task and startle response task at baseline and end-point.

Results:

At baseline, participating patients (n = 9) had moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms and mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms, they attended 84% of offered sessions and provided positive feedback on the content and delivery of treatment. Symptom severity reduced significantly from baseline to end-point. There were greater errors on negative trials compared to neutral trials in the antisaccade task at baseline, and a significant reduction in antisaccade errors for negative stimuli as compared to neutral stimuli between baseline and end-point: but there were no significant differences in either mean heart rate or startle response between baseline and end-point.

Limitations:

The absence of a control group and small sample size.

Conclusion:

Yogic breathing techniques proved simple to learn and may be beneficial in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant GAD. Yogic breathing had no effect on autonomic arousal, but the reduction in errors to negative stimuli in the antisaccade task suggests an improvement in attention control during the intervention accompanying the reduction in symptoms.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; pranayama; yogic breathing

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