Yoga for Somatoform Disorders

In the linked study here, a yoga-based intervention was explored with patients with a diagnosis of somatoform disorder.

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A somatic symptom disorder is a category of mental disorder characterised by physical symptoms that suggest physical illness or injury which cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition or by the direct effect of a substance, and are not attributable to another mental disorder. Typically, medical test results are normal in people with this diagnosis or fail to adequately explain the person's symptoms. Moreover, the person is generally excessively worried about their symptoms and in order to obtain a diagnosis this intense worry must have been present for at least six months.

In the linked study here, a yoga-based intervention was explored with patients with a diagnosis of somatoform disorder. This study is particularly important given that the use of yoga in treatment of somatoform disorders is minimal. Consenting patients were offered a specific yoga module (1 hour per day) as a treatment. Assessments included the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and others, which were carried out at baseline and after 2, 6, and 12 weeks. Sixty-four subjects were included in the study and 34 completed 12 weeks follow-up. Significant improvement was noted in pain severity from baseline to 12 weeks after regular yoga sessions. Worst and average pain score also dropped. Results of the study suggest that yoga-based intervention can be one of the non-pharmacological treatment options in somatoform disorders. Very heartening indeed.

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS