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BACKGROUND: Although hatha yoga has frequently been recommended for patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and there is preliminary evidence that it alleviates depression, there are no published data on the benefits-and potential risks-of yoga for patients with BD. Thus, the goal of this study was to assess the risks and benefits of yoga in individuals with BD. METHODS: We recruited self-identified yoga practitioners with BD (N=109) to complete an Internet survey that included measures of demographic and clinical information and open-ended questions about yoga practice and the impact of yoga. RESULTS: 86 respondents provided sufficient information for analysis, 70 of whom met positive screening criteria for a lifetime history of mania or hypomania. The most common styles of yoga preferred were hatha and vinyasa. When asked what impact yoga had on their life, participants responded most commonly with positive emotional effects, particularly reduced anxiety, positive cognitive effects (e.g., acceptance, focus, or "a break from my thoughts"), or positive physical effects (e.g., weight loss, increased energy). Some respondents considered yoga to be significantly life changing. The most common negative effect of yoga was physical injury or pain. Five respondents gave examples of specific instances or a yoga practice that they believed increased agitation or manic symptoms; five respondents gave examples of times that yoga increased depression or lethargy. CONCLUSIONS: Many individuals who self-identify as having BD believe that yoga has benefits for mental health. However, yoga is not without potential risks. It is possible that yoga could serve as a useful adjunctive treatment for BD.
BACKGROUND: Hatha yoga may be helpful for alleviating depression symptoms. The purpose of this analysis is to determine whether treatment program preference, credibility, or expectancy predict engagement in depression interventions (yoga or a control class) or depression symptom severity over time. METHODS: This is a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of hatha yoga vs. a health education control group for treatment of depression. Depressed participants (n=122) attended up to 20 classes over a period of 10 weeks, and then completed additional assessments after 3 and 6 months. We assessed treatment preference prior to randomization, and treatment credibility and expectancy after participants attended their first class. Treatment "concordance" indicated that treatment preference matched assigned treatment. RESULTS: Treatment credibility, expectancy, and concordance were not associated with treatment engagement. Treatment expectancy moderated the association between treatment group and depression. Depression severity over time differed by expectancy level for the yoga group but not for the health education group. Controlling for baseline depression, participants in the yoga group with an average or high expectancy for improvement showed lower depression symptoms across the acute intervention and follow-up period than those with a low expectancy for improvement. There was a trend for a similar pattern for credibility. Concordance was not associated with treatment outcome. LIMITATIONS: This is a secondary, post-hoc analysis and should be considered hypothesis-generating. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that expectancy improves the likelihood of success only for a intervention thought to actively target depression (yoga) and not a control intervention.