The effect of yoga on depression in mild cognitive impairment
Shukla, Urvashi K.
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Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) appears after a decade or more of brain degeneration and this is termed mild cognitive impairment (MCI). As it progresses, patients begin to lose their short term memory, motor skills and begin to become more disoriented and bed ridden. Thus, early diagnosis becomes paramount in preventing eventual disability. Individuals with MCI may have advanced brain degeneration and the presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) may augment the progression to AD dementia compared to individuals without NPS. Of these NPS, depression is one of the main symptoms that greatly impacts quality of life but it is often overlooked and undertreated. The annual cost of pharmacologic treatments is rising and assessment tools for AD and depression are increasing as are rates of AD. It is crucial to execute compelling non-pharmacologic interventions that can be beneficial to the elderly population while acknowledging their endurance, fitness and enjoyment levels. Yoga is one such intervention that has been proven to improve depression and cognitive levels while simultaneously maintaining a positive and engaging atmosphere. Studies have found that consistent use of yoga can also increase GABA levels in the brain which serve to improve depression levels too. There have been no studies that have investigated the effects of yoga on depression in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. This proposed trial will be a randomized controlled study and it will compare the quality of depression symptoms in elderly individuals with MCI and depression in elderly individuals without MCI with a yoga intervention combined with walking and in a control group with walking alone. Several assessment tools will be utilized to evaluate the outcomes including the PHQ-9, GDS, HAM-D, and MoCA. The effect on sleep will also be measured as a secondary outcome. If yoga is able to improve depression levels, it may have an impact in reversing MCI, delaying progression to AD dementia, and a potentially deep impact on the financial and public health burden of AD. Furthermore, it can reduce the need for anti-depressants and other medications for depression and eliminate their potentially harmful side effects. If this study proves to be clinically significant, yoga can also be recommended as an efficient intervention by clinicians in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and depression.