Can Yoga Help Manage Schizophrenia Symptoms?


July 12, 2022     benefits of yoga | Yoga Research

Yoga may help reduce schizophrenia symptoms alongside other treatments

Research Study At A Glance

The Research Question Asked

Can yoga help manage schizophrenia symptoms?

Type of Study

Review paper (narrative review)

Methods

Researchers compared the results of all published studies on yoga and schizophrenia with one another to see if there were trends in the effects of yoga on specific types of symptoms.

Results

Yoga treatments improved quality of life and moderately improved some negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms. But, it didn’t seem to affect positive symptoms.

Conclusion

Yoga treatments improved quality of life for those suffering with schizophrenia and moderately reduced some symptoms of the disorder.

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Background

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health disorder with a variable set of symptoms usually described as falling into three main groups. Symptoms include things referred to as “positive symptoms” like hallucinations or delusions. There are also symptoms referred to as “negative symptoms” which include withdrawing or disengaging with life in various ways. And, there are cognitive symptoms which include struggles with types of neurocognition and social cognition. Common treatments for schizophrenia include many different types of medications. Treatments also include cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive remediation therapy, and social skills training. While medication can sometimes successfully treat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, negative and cognitive symptoms are particularly hard to treat.

Yoga has been found in research studies to be helpful in managing symptoms in other psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, and others. And, some small studies have begun to explore whether it might be helpful in managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for those suffering with schizophrenia. In the research paper we summarize here, a group of researchers pulled together the results of all the smaller studies on yoga and schizophrenia. Then they looked for trends in the results that didn’t otherwise show up as significant when they only looked at the results of the smaller individual studies.

Research question

Can yoga help manage schizophrenia symptoms?

Research methods

Researchers examined all published randomized control trial studies which evaluated yoga as a treatment for schizophrenia and were published between 2007 and 2015. Seven studies qualified for inclusion in their review and the researchers compared the methods and results. Specifically, they looked at the effects of each yoga treatment on positive schizophrenia symptoms, negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms, social functioning, and quality of life.

Results

  • Five studies showed improvements in negative symptoms when yoga treatment was compared with either exercise or being listed on a “waitlist”.
  • Four studies showed some improvements in positive symptoms when yoga treatment was compared with either exercise or being listed on a “waitlist”.
  • All four of the studies that evaluated the effects of yoga on cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia found improvements in those symptoms.
  • The four of the studies that evaluated the effects of yoga on social functioning with schizophrenia found improvements in those symptoms.
  • All five of the studies that evaluated the effects of yoga on quality of life found that quality of life improved.

Why is this relevant to yoga practitioners?

More and more research shows how yoga can benefit those suffering with many types of mental health challenges. That ranges from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia. One thing we can take from this is that yoga supports mental health generally. And, as the authors of this article point out in their conclusion, yoga is also something we can do preventatively. Tools like yoga can help us manage the daily ups, downs, and stresses of life.

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Conclusion

There have been only a few studies looking at the effects of yoga on managing schizophrenia symptoms. But, this review paper which consolidated the results of all of those smaller studies suggests that yoga can help manage certain types of schizophrenia symptoms along with other types of treatments.

Reference citation

Govindara, R., S. Varambally, N. P. Rao, G. Venkatasubramanian, and B. N. Gangadhar. 2020. Does yoga have a role in schizophrenia management? Current Psychiatry Reports. 22:78. 10pgs.

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