Context: Yoga therapy has been demonstrated to be useful in treatment of negative symptoms and improving the socio-occupational functioning and emotion recognition deficits in antipsychotic-stabilized schizophrenia patients. Oxytocin has been recently implicated in social cognition deficits in schizophrenia. The effect of yoga therapy on oxytocin levels in schizophrenia has not been studied.
Aims: This study aimed to assess the effect of yoga therapy on symptoms, socio-occupational functioning, facial emotion recognition deficits and plasma oxytocin levels in antipsychotic stabilized schizophrenia patients.
Settings and design: Randomized controlled study on 43 consenting, medication stabilized patients with schizophrenia in a tertiary psychiatric center using yoga intervention and waitlisted groups.
Materials and methods: A total of 43 schizophrenia patients were randomized to yoga group (n=15) or waitlist group (n=28). Patients in the yoga group received training in a specific yoga therapy module for schizophrenia. Patients in both groups were continued on stable antipsychotic medication. Assessments included scale for assessment of positive symptoms, scale for assessment of negative symptoms, socio-occupational functioning scale and tool for recognition of emotions in neuropsychiatric disorders (TRENDS) and plasma oxytocin levels; performed at baseline and at the end of 1 month.
Results: A total of 15 patients in the yoga group and 12 in waitlist group completed the study. The yoga therapy group showed a significant improvement in socio-occupational functioning, performance on TRENDS (P<0.001) and plasma increase in oxytocin levels (P=0.01) as compared with the waitlist group.
Conclusion: The study supported the role of add-on yoga therapy in management of schizophrenia and demonstrated an improvement in endogenous plasma oxytocin levels in schizophrenia patients receiving yoga therapy.
Keywords: Facial emotion recognition deficits; oxytocin; schizophrenia; tool for recognition of emotions in neuropsychiatric disorders; yoga.