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Tai chi could reduce depression and anxiety in these people

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Knowridge Science Report
Knowridge Science Report

In a new study from the University of Arizona, researchers found that tai chi may reduce depression, anxiety and stress plus improve sleep in people who have had a stroke.

Depression occurs in approximately one-third of stroke survivors and is linked with greater disability and mortality rates. Individuals with post-stroke depression frequently also report anxiety, stress, and poor sleep.

Tai chi focuses on releasing tension in the body, incorporating mindfulness and imagery into movement, increasing awareness and efficiency of breathing, and promoting overall relaxation of body and mind.

Mind-body interventions are commonly used among adults to lessen depressive symptoms.

The team says Tai chi practice allows the individual to quiet the mind by dwelling in the present and setting aside unnecessary negative emotions, such as depression.

In the study, they examined the feasibility of using tai chi in people with a previous stroke. A total of 11 stroke survivors reporting depression symptoms were enrolled in the study. They were on average 70 years old, and 55% were men.

All stroke survivors attended the tai chi intervention classes, three times each week, for a total of eight weeks. The intervention had been planned for 12 weeks but was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each class consisted of a 10-minute warm-up period, 40-minutes of tai chi exercise, and a 10-minute cool-down period. Participants were gradually taught 24 basic movements from the Wu style of tai chi.

After eight weeks of tai chi, the researchers found strong reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress compared to baseline, along with better sleep efficiency, less wakefulness after sleep onset, and less time awake.

Before the study, the participants reported mild to moderate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The team was surprised and pleased with the improvements in these self-reported symptoms and in sleep with just an eight-week intervention.

The researchers also took blood samples at baseline and eight weeks to measure markers of oxidative stress and inflammation which have previously been associated with post-stroke depression.

They found the lower activity of the oxidative stress marker after the intervention but no significant changes in any of the inflammatory markers.

The team says more research is needed before recommendations can be made about tai chi for people who have had a stroke.

If you care about depression and anxiety, please read studies about a new ‘warning sign’ of early depression and findings of the long-term use of depression drug may cause addiction.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about single dose of this psychedelic drug may reduce depression, anxiety for years and results showing that anxiety drugs: What everyone should know.

The study was presented at EuroHeartCare—ACNAP Congress 2021. One author of the study is Dr. Ruth Taylor-Piliae.

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