Study shows yoga is as effective as traditional therapy for anxiety

New research shows that yoga is equally as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety in older adults. Participants showed lasting improvement in anxiety symptoms, even 6 months after stopping either therapy.

Multiple studies have shown that anxiety in older adults is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, morbidity, and mortality, so effective therapies can be life changing.

Offering a choice between CBT and yoga may help more people get the support they need. In fact, in this study more people chose yoga than CBT.


Robust research

The study, published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry September 2022 issue, included 500 participants equally divided in two parts: a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and a preference trial. The participants were 60 years of age or older, and the study took place over 10 weeks.

At 11 weeks all participants showed significant improvement in anxiety and worry. At 37 weeks, approximately 6 months after both interventions ended, not only did participants still show improvement from when they started, but they showed additional clinically meaningful improvement.


Powerful medicine for anxiety

Carmen Andreescu, MD, noted that, “the persistent perception of anxiety symptoms as a relatively mild group of . . . symptoms with no relevant impact beyond decreased quality of life continues to persist in the medical community.” Dr. Andreescu countered this misperception with multiple studies to the contrary that demonstrate the dire consequences of unaddressed anxiety in older adults. In psychotherapy CBT is considered the gold standard by many, which makes this finding regarding the efficacy of yoga powerful and promising.

Suzanne C. Danhauer, PhD, of Wake Forest School of Medicine was lead author on the study.


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