Yoga for Schizophrenia

According to a new study, yoga therapy (in combination with conventional treatment) may benefit patients with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder often associated with patients experiencing delusions and hallucinations. Common symptoms include intense anxiety, loss of appetite and hygiene, social withdrawal and depressed mood. It is believed that genetics and chemical abnormalities in the brain may both contribute to the development of the condition. Several human studies currently support the use of yoga for the treatment of schizophrenia; however, further research is necessary.

In a new study, researchers randomly assigned 18 stable schizophrenic patients to either a treatment group or a wait-list control group. In the treatment group, patients participated in various yoga exercises such as postures, breathing exercises and relaxation. Schizophrenia symptoms and quality of life were measured using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire before treatment and again after eight weeks.

The patients who participated in yoga therapy presented significant improvements in schizophrenia symptoms, such as paranoia, depression and general psychopathology, when compared to the control group. Additionally, yoga therapy patients showed significant improvements in quality of life.

Larger-scale studies are necessary to further evaluate these findings.

Music therapy and psychotherapy have also been studied as potential treatments for schizophrenia and currently have good scientific evidence of benefit supporting their use. Ginkgo and hypnosis are among the therapies with unclear or conflicting scientific evidence of benefit.

Visceglia E, Lewis S. “Yoga therapy as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia: a randomized, controlled pilot study.Journal for Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011 Jul;17(7):601-7

Republished with permission of Natural Standards Research Collaboration ©2011.