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The University of Southampton
Centre for Clinical and Experimental PsychopharmacologyGAD Research

Yogic breathing

Using yogic breathing techniques in anxiety disorders in addition to antidepressants.

What is the aim of the research?

There is much uncertainty about the further management of patients with GAD who do not respond to initial treatment, and a range of differing approaches are used. These include increasing the dosage of the same medication, augmentation of one medication with another, switching to another treatment, and the combination of pharmacological with psychological interventions. At present the only intervention for which there is good evidence is for the augmentation of antidepressant drugs with the anticonvulsant and anxiolytic medication pregabalin (Baldwin et al., 2011; Rickels et al., 2012) but pregabalin augmentation is not always effective and some patients report troublesome drowsiness. There is a clear need for further studies of other augmentation (‘booster’) treatments in the group of patients who have not responded to initial treatment. The findings of a recent preliminary study of a yoga-based breath intervention programme as an augmentation treatment in patients with GAD suggest that this approach may be beneficial, though many aspects of its potential value remain uncertain (Katzman et al., 2012).

Can I take part in the research?

You can apply to take part in the research if you are aged between 18-70, have been diagnosed with GAD and have been being treated with SSRIs or SNRIs for at least 6 weeks. If you fit this criteria, and would like to find out more, please complete the form below and we will contact you regarding eligibility.

What will I have to do if I am eligible?

If eligible, you will enter the prospective phase, where you would be assessed at baseline, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 6. You would be asked to bring any remaining medication to these visits, for a tablet count to see what percentage of medication has been taken during the two-week interval. If your anxiety symptoms have not reduced by 50% or more from baseline, you would be suitable to take part in the yogic breathing phase. In the yogic breathing augmentation phase, you would be assessed at baseline, Week 1, Week 2, Week 6 and Week 12 (or earlier in case you stopped earlier) – this is a total of 5 assessments. You would also be invited to take part in two short computerized tasks relating to the processing of information about emotions. In the augmentation phase you will be provided with yogic breathing training. In Week 1 participants would have an introductory week of training and practice in groups of 10-12, with a trained yoga instructor. All participants would then practice yogic breathing techniques, along with the instructor, once a week for Weeks 2 and 3, then once every 2 weeks from week 4-12.

Will there be any risk to me as a participant?

There are no major reported risks or side effects associated with the use of breathing techniques but you should feel free to discuss any concerns about potential or actual side effects at any point in the study. You will be asked some quite detailed questions about your symptoms. These questions can sometimes be a bit upsetting so it is important to remember that you would not have to answer any questions you did not want to. If you did become upset, you are free to contact members of the research team on the telephone number shown below during office hours, and can of course, contact local mental health services at any time if needed. The Research Team can be contacted on: 02380 718 520.

How do I get more information? (contact details)

If you are interested in taking part in this study, please complete the contact form and you will be contacted by someone from our research team. If you are not sure whether you are eligible for the study, but still want to take part, have a look at our ‘diagnostic criteria’ page. If you are still not sure, let us know through the contact form and we will contact you to confirm.

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