Benefits & Risks of Yoga for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, once known as manic-depressive illness, is a chronically inveterate condition that forms in the brain, causing the sufferer to experience dramatic mood swings that make him or her feel excessively happy or terribly depressed. People with bipolar disorder also experience drastic changes in their levels of energy and in their mannerisms. Studies have shown that around 2.6 percent of the world’s people who are of age 18 and older suffer from bipolar disorder and are often left untreated until diagnosed because many people believe that this is not a legitimate disorder.

Moreover, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are quite difficult to determine, and the condition is even more difficult to treat as it requires careful management throughout the sufferer’s life. Bipolar disorder is popularly treated with the help of therapy or several different kinds of medications, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills, but the latter may result in severe side-effects.

However, just recently a study was carried out to determine whether it was possible to make use of hatha yoga for bipolar disorder treatment. The results showed that hatha yoga is indeed effective, with a few exceptions, meaning there are both benefits and risks involved if hatha yoga is used for the treatment of this disorder. Hatha yoga usually includes breathing practices and meditation.

Benefits and Risks of Yoga for Bipolar Disorder Treatment

The study was conducted through an online survey, and the results were based on the responses of more than 70 people who took the survey. When the participants were asked what impact yoga had on their life, the majority claimed it to be “life changing,” and 29 others stated that yoga did, in fact, reduce anxiety and divert them from suicidal or depressive thinking.

Many of the patients had nothing but great things to say about yoga. Even the researchers commented that their patients enjoyed doing yoga and that it improved the quality of their lives. However, a few of the results of the survey suggested otherwise. When the participants were asked whether yoga had a negative impact on their lives, a few claimed the rapid and vigorous breathing that was involved made them feel frantic.

Around 11 participants even informed researchers that there was a possibility of physical injuries or pain involved in the practice of yoga. Four stated that it gave them a sense of insecurity and self-criticism. The results of the survey also found that practicing hot yoga could possibly result in physical illnesses for those who were pairing yoga with bipolar medications such as lithium or antipsychotics.

Lisa Uebelacker, who was the lead researcher and is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University as well as a staff psychologist at Butler Hospital, said regarding the use of yoga for bipolar disorder that research is being constantly done to determine the best course of treatment for the ailment. She noted that yoga is one of the options they are considering.

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