Tai Chi improves depression in the elderly – UCLA study
With millions of seniors suffering from depression, and with the numbers expected to increase greatly in the next 35 years, depression and suicide are serious problems for elderly North Americans.
Most elderly patients fail to achieve full remission of and recovery from depression when treated with first-line medicine alone.
A recent study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) shows that combining weekly tai chi* classes with a standard depression treatment (in this case, escitalopram) may improve depression symptoms, such as quality of life, memory, cognition, and energy.
The test group was compared with control group that was given escitalopram and a weekly “health education” classes.
One hundred twelve adults over the age of 60 years were treated with escitalopram for four weeks. Seventy-three who responded partially to escitalopram continued to receive escitalopram daily and for ten more weeks were assigned either two hours of tai chi per week or two hours of health education per week. At the beginning of the study and after 14 weeks, all participants were evaluated for depression, anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition, and inflammation.
More of the Tai Chi group showed greater improvement in depression symptoms or depression remission than those in the Health Education group. Seventy-seven percent of the control group scored 10 or less on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. 51 percent achieved remission (score of 6 or less).
Ninety-four percent of the tai chi students scored less than 10. Sixty-five percent achieved remission.
The tai chi group also showed significantly greater improvement in physical function, cognition, and levels of C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) than the control group.
*The style of tai chi taught was a simplified version of taijiquan called Tai Chi Chih.
Complementary Use of Tai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Lavretsky, Helen; Alstein, Lily L.; Olmstead, Richard E.; Ercoli, Linda M.; Riparetti-Brown, Marquertie; St. Cyr, Natalie; Irwin, Michael R.
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry., POST AUTHOR CORRECTIONS, 6 March 2011
Use of Tai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression:
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