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Yoga for Mental Health in Parkinson's Patients

Mental health issues caused by emotional and behavioral changes are common among people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Research from the Parkinson's Foundation's Parkinson's Outcomes Project has found that anxiety and depression play a key role in the disease's impact on people's quality of life. The death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain affects both movement and mood. As a result, both anxiety and depression are common non-motor symptoms of the disease rather than reactions to the diagnosis.

According to the Parkinson's Outcomes Project, during their illness:

At least 50% of people will experience some form of depression
At least 40% of people will experience an anxiety disorder

Forms of anxiety include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Attacks, Social Avoidance, and OCD1. Depression in Parkinson's disease often manifests as dissatisfaction with life, sadness, irritability, pessimism, and suicidal thoughts.

Meditative techniques have been shown to effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Treating these non-motor symptoms can have a positive impact on people with Parkinson's disease by decreasing disability and improving their quality of life.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of a set of simple, safe and scalable, digitally delivered meditation and breathing practices on the neuropsychological and movement disorder symptoms in patients with Parkinson's Disease over a period of 18 weeks. The intervention consists of a Yogic Breathing practice (Nadi Shuddhi) and two guided meditations (Isha Kriya and Nada Yoga). Our recent studies using similar interventions have shown feasibility and acceptance as well as Improved perceived stress in healthy subjects.

The subjects will be randomized into two groups after they agree to participate in the study, an intervention group (Group 1) and a waitlisted control group (Group 2). This trial will be conducted in 2 phases:

Phase 1: If participants are in the intervention group, they will be asked to learn and practice a Yogic Breathing practice (Nadi Shuddhi) and two guided meditations (Isha Kriya and Nada Yoga) for 12 weeks. They will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires at baseline (T0),6 weeks after the intervention (T2), 12 weeks after the intervention (T3), and 18 weeks after the intervention. Participants in the waitlisted control group will be asked to perform their regular daily routine as they wait to be enrolled into the intervention at the end of 7 weeks.

Phase 2: The waitlisted control group will begin the intervention at T2 and continue until T4 (12 weeks total). They will be asked to continue completing the questionnaires at the end of T2, T3, and T4. Both groups will be asked to complete a satisfaction survey at the end of T4.