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Yoga May Improve Social, Occupational Functioning in Schizophrenia Patients

Facial emotion recognition deficits (FERD) have long been problematic to the socio-occupational abilities of patients with schizophrenia.

A new study suggests that yoga therapy may provide an improved outlook for positive and negative symptoms and socio-occupational functioning in relation to FERD.

Dr. B. N. Gangadhar of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and his team in Bangalore, India led the study. In the background abstract they noted that “yoga therapy has been described to improve functioning in various domains in schizophrenia; however, its effect on FERD is not known.”

To determine the potential positive effect on FERD, the study was initiated with 66 stable schizophrenia patients, aged 18-80 years. All participants were receiving antipsychotic medications.

Random assignments were made of participating patients, with 27 participating in a yoga group, 17 participating in an exercise group and 22 placed on a waiting list. Those involved in the yoga and exercise groups were trained for one month and then practiced their respective modalities at home for an additional two months under monitoring.

Techniques taught and practiced included breathing exercises, suryanamaskara, sitting supine and prone posture asanas with pranayama and relaxation techniques.

Those on the waiting list group did not receive any intervention.

Assessments were conducted from an initial baseline using several measurement tools including the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Socio-Occupational Functioning Scale (SOFS) and the Tool for Recognition of Emotions in Neuropsychiatric Disorder (TRENDS).

Results depicted significant improvement with the yoga group. Scores on SOFS went from 30.8 at baseline to 25.7 in the fourth month, and the TRENDS Accuracy Score went from 49.4 at baseline to 54.6 during the same timeframe.

Significant reductions in positive and negative symptoms were also recorded as PANSS scores for positive symptoms fell from 15.1 at baseline to 12.1 at the fourth month, and scores for negative symptoms fell from 17.8 at baseline to 14.7.

The research team noted that “maximum improvement occurred at the end of two months, and improvement in positive and negative symptoms persisted at the end of four months.”

“Yoga as an add-on treatment improves positive and negative symptoms, and emotion recognition abilities in antipsychotic-stabilized patients with schizophrenia, which in turn might improve their socio-occupational functioning,” Gangadhar and the research team concluded.

According to Gangadhar, yoga is being increasingly used as a complementary therapy in the management of psychiatric and neurological disorders, and a number of studies point to its effectiveness in treating depression, anxiety, epilepsy and migraines to name a few.  

He also points to positive mental health outcomes that have been realized by children who practice yoga techniques. Not only has it been found to improve IQ, social adaptation and cognitive skills, but it has also proved a promising addition to the incomplete benefits and troublesome side effects of pharmaceutical intervention in several psychiatric disorders of children.

The research team for the current study suggested that “further systematic studies are needed to study the beneficial effects of yoga in patients with schizophrenia and their potential neurobiological mechanisms.”

The report can be found in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

Source: MedWire News

Yoga May Improve Social, Occupational Functioning in Schizophrenia Patients

Selena Chavis

APA Reference
Chavis, S. (2018). Yoga May Improve Social, Occupational Functioning in Schizophrenia Patients. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 17 Sep 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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