Generalized anxiety disorder is a common condition caused by chronic stress and nervousness. Although cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered to be the most effective first-line treatment, researchers at New York University found that yoga could also be efficient at alleviating symptoms.
According to their new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, 226 male and female participants with chronic anxiety were recruited to take part in either CBT, Kundalini yoga, or stress-management education.
During CBT sessions with the participants, psychoeducation, cognitive interventions, and muscle relaxation techniques were shown to combat symptoms of anxiety. For the yoga sessions, breathing techniques, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises were taught for reducing symptom severity.
Following three months, the participants who received either of three treatment interventions were assessed to determine outcome on symptom severity. Based on the findings, both CBT and yoga led to significant improvements in anxiety symptoms.
71 percent reported symptom improvement with their CBT sessions, while 54 percent saw improvement with yoga. Only 33 percent found stress-management sessions to have been beneficial for their anxiety.
While yoga was not more effective than CBT, it is still considered an efficient alternative intervention for treating anxiety.
“Generalized anxiety disorder is a very common condition, yet many are not willing or able to access evidence-based treatments,” said Naomi Simon, the study’s lead author.
“Our findings demonstrate that yoga, which is safe and widely available, can improve symptoms for some people with this disorder and could be a valuable tool in an overall treatment plan.”
“We need more options to treat anxiety because different people will respond to different interventions, and having more options can help overcome barriers to care.”