From the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles (1);
Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, University of California, Los Angeles (2);
Alzheimer's Research and Prvention Foundation (3);
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (4);
Blackburn Laboratory University of California, San Francisco (5);
In conjunctions with researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, the ARPF found that meditation from yoga can help lower depression in caregivers, and may also improve their cognitive functioning. The researchers even found that the meditation was associated with a decrease in cellular aging from stress.
Researchers reported that caregivers are known to be at an increased risk of depression and devotional distress -- plus, many caregivers tend to be older, which can lead to a lowered defense against stress and conditions like heart disease.
For the study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the researchers recruited 49 caregivers between ages 45 and 91 who were taking care of a relative with dementia. Thirty-six of them were adult children of the person with dementia, and 13 were the spouses of the person with dementia.
The researchers separated the study participants into two groups: One was taught a 12-minute yoga routine that included a chanting meditation (called Kirtan Kriya), done every day for eight weeks. The other group relaxed with eyes closed for 12 minutes a day to a relaxation CD with instrumental music.
By the end of the study period, researchers found that in the yoga group, 65 percent of people had a 50 percent better score on a depression scale, and 52 percent had a 50 percent better mental health score. Among people in the relaxation group, on the other hand, 31 percent had a better score on the depression scale and 19 percent had a better score in mental health.
In addition, the researchers found that the yoga group's telomerase activity had improved by 43 percent, while just 3.7 percent of the relaxation group's telomerase activity improved. Telomerase activity is important because it slows down the process of cellular aging.