A new study by Lisa Uebelacker and colleagues, of Brown University in Providence, found that patients suffering of bipolar disorder greatly benefited from yoga which seemed to reduce their severe symptoms.
‘Bipolar disorder — sometimes called manic-depressive disorder — is associated with mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time.’ (MayoClinic)
Eighty-six people with bipolar disorder took part in the study where they were asked questions on their lives, their experiences with yoga and their disorder. All the patients practiced yoga for around 6 years on average. The results were somehow astonishing – most patients reported that practising yoga helped them feel relief from some of their symptoms.
Some said that the symptoms of depressions were significantly decreased while others noticed positive emotional effects like reduced anxiety and increased mindfulness, such as their ability to focus. Nineteen people also said that yoga helped them improve their sleep and lose weight.
Dr. Glen R. Elliott, MD, PhD, a professor in the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found the methodology a bit sketchy. The said: “the way the authors identified these individuals, there is no way to get a sense of how commonly patients use [yoga] and how many have tried to use it and found it unhelpful. If a patient is interested in trying it to see if yoga helps with mood stabilization, I would not discourage it; but, I would strongly recommend that he or she works with a trained yoga instructor to minimize the likelihood of physical injury.”
The most effective type of yoga amongst patients was Hatha – which focuses on breathing, physical posture and meditation. Although, there was a very small percentage of participants who didn’t benefit from yoga and experienced injury, pain and mania when doing fast breathing, the majority said that yoga helped them focus on the present moment and feel calm.