Other than the conventional methods adopted by clinicians and psychiatrists to treat anxiety disorder, often people also come up with their own ways to deal with their problem. Some believe that keeping pets can make significant difference in dealing with their anxiety problem, while some take help of physical exercises. There are also those who feel that yoga can be of real help for patients with general anxiety disorder.
According to a study – titled “Effects of Yoga versus Walking on Mood, Anxiety, and Brain GABA Levels: A Randomized Controlled MRS Study,” published in 2010 – due to yoga “there were positive correlations between improved mood and decreased anxiety and thalamic GABA levels.” The study, which was a collaboration of a number of renowned psychiatrists, doctors and scientists, also opined that yoga showed better promises than walking among participants.
Yoga is a low cost and highly effective technique which can aid in treating anxiety disorder. This holistic approach is steadily gaining momentum in modern psychiatrist practice. Besides, not having any side effects is one of the most endearing qualities of yoga. It remains to be seen how many treatment centers take to this holistic method as a complementary step in treating anxiety.
How yoga helps
Yoga induces a feeling of calm and relaxation in a practitioner, offering anxiety disorder patients some immediate relief to start with. The study claims that yoga increases the brain’s Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, which is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. GABA is vital for the proper functioning of regions in the central nervous system. It is directly proportional to feelings of relaxation in the body.
Low GABA level is a clear indication of anxiety and depression in people. The researchers reinforced that the yoga volunteers reported greater improvement in mood and greater decreases in anxiety than the walking group with same amount of respective intervention. They found that there were positive correlations between improved mood and decreased anxiety and thalamic GABA levels. “The yoga group had positive correlations between changes in mood scales and changes in GABA levels,” the researchers said. They concluded that impact of yoga on mood and anxiety is not solely due to the metabolic demands of the activity.
There are more studies that echo a similar view. One such study, conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2013, found identical effects of Bikram Yoga on anxiety and depression. Researchers noticed that the three elements of yoga, breathing, posture and meditation brought about a deeper level of physiological rest in participants which resulted in a rapid and positive change in metabolism, immune function and insulin secretion in them. The effect was similar to the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical which is triggered by administering patients with antidepressants like Prozac.
Hence, practising yoga and meditation, despite undergoing other conventional treatments for anxiety disorder, will only complement them. It will surely expedite the healing process and ensure that there is a long-term recovery. And since practicing yoga is a life-long process, just like exercising, one can definitely predict a permanent cure for anxiety. As rightly said by Dr. Baxter Bell, a proponent of yoga himself, “Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.”