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Examining the Feasibility and Acceptability of an Online Yoga Class for Mood Disorders

A MoodNetwork Study


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: January 2018 - Volume 24 - Issue 1 - p 60–67
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000286

Background: Despite ongoing advances in the treatment of mood disorders, a substantial proportion of people diagnosed with major depression or bipolar disorder remain symptomatic over time. Yoga, which has been shown to reduce stress and depressive symptoms, as well as to improve overall quality of life, shows promise as an adjunctive treatment. However, dissemination of yoga for clinical populations remains challenging. The purpose of this pilot study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of an online yoga intervention for individuals with mood disorders.

Methods: In total, 56 adults who reported being diagnosed with a mood disorder (bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, cyclothymia, or schizoaffective disorder) were recruited from MoodNetwork, an online community of individuals with mood disorders. A feedback survey and a measure of positive and negative affect were administered before and after a 30-minute online Hatha yoga class.

Results: In total, 44 individuals (78.6%) completed all components of the yoga class. The mean score on a 10-point Likert scale rating how much participants liked the online yoga class was 7.24 (SD=2.40). Most participants (67.9%) reported that they would be “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to participate in an online yoga program again. There was a statistically significant decrease in negative affect after completing the class (t=−6.05; P<0.001), but positive affect did not change (P>0.10).

Discussion: These preliminary data support the utility of online yoga tailored specifically for people with mood disorders as a possible adjunctive intervention that warrants further investigation.

UEBELACKER: Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Butler Hospital, Providence, RI

DUFOUR, DINERMAN, WALSH: Massachusetts General Hospital, Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation, Boston, MA

HEARING: Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, DC

GILLETTE: Eyes of the World Associates Inc., North Kingston, RI

DECKERSBACH, NIERENBERG, and SYLVIA: Massachusetts General Hospital, Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation, and Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

WEINSTOCK: Butler Hospital and Brown University, Providence, RI

This work was partially supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), program award PPRN-1306-04925, and by the Depressive and Bipolar Disorders Alternative Treatment Foundation (DBDAT). T.D.’s research has been funded by NIH, NIMH, NARSAD, TSA, IOCDF, Tufts University, DBDAT, Cogito Corporation, Sunovion, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, and Harvard Medical School. He has received honoraria, consultation fees and/or royalties from the MGH Psychiatry Academy, Brain Cells Inc., Clintara, LLC., Systems Research and Applications Corporation, Boston University, the Catalan Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Research, the National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Medical Society, Tufts University, NIDA, NIMH, Oxford University Press, Guilford Press, and Rutledge. He has also participated in research funded by DARPA, NIH, NIMH, NIA, AHRQ, PCORI, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, The Forest Research Institute, Shire Development Inc., Medtronic, Cyberonics, Northstar, and Takeda. A.A.N. receives grant/research support from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, AHRQ, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cederroth, Cephalon, Cyberonics, Elan, Eli Lilly, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Lichtwer Pharma, Marriott Foundation, Mylan, NIMH, PamLabs, PCORI, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Shire, Stanley Foundation, Takeda, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Honoraria include Belvoir Publishing, University of Texas Southwestern Dallas, Brandeis University, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hillside Hospital, American Drug Utilization Review, American Society for Clinical Psychopharmacology, Baystate Medical Center, Columbia University, CRICO, Dartmouth Medical School, Health New England, Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, IMEDEX, Israel Society for Biological Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University, MJ Consulting, New York State, Medscape, MBL Publishing, MGH Psychiatry Academy, National Association of Continuing Education, Physicians Postgraduate Press, SUNY Buffalo, University of Wisconsin, University of Pisa, University of Michigan, University of Miami, University of Wisconsin at Madison, World Congress of Brain Behavior and Emotion, APSARD, ISBD, SciMed, Slack Publishing and Wolters Klower Publishing ASCP, NCDEU, Rush Medical College, Yale University School of Medicine, NNDC, Nova Southeastern University, NAMI, Institute of Medicine, CME Institute, ISCTM. L.G.S. receives royalties from New Harbinger. She has received grant/research support from NIMH, PCORI, AFSP, and Takeda.

L.U.’s husband is employed by Abbvie Pharmaceuticals. A.A.N. is a consultant for the Abbott Laboratories, Alkermes, American Psychiatric Association, Appliance Computing Inc. (Mindsite), Basilea, Brain Cells Inc., Brandeis University, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Clintara, Corcept, Dey Pharmaceuticals, Dainippon Sumitomo (now Sunovion), Eli Lilly and Company, EpiQ, L.P./Mylan Inc., Forest, Genaissance, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffman LaRoche, Infomedic, Intra-Cellular Therapies, Lundbeck, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Medavante, Merck, Methylation Sciences, Naurex, NeuroRx, Novartis, Otsuka, PamLabs, Parexel, Pfizer, PGx Health, Ridge Diagnostics Shire, Schering-Plough, Somerset, Sunovion, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Targacept, and Teva; consulted through the MGH Clinical Trials Network and Institute (CTNI) for Astra Zeneca, Brain Cells Inc., Dianippon Sumitomo/Sepracor, Johnson and Johnson, Labopharm, Merck, Methylation Science, Novartis, PGx Health, Shire, Schering-Plough, Targacept, and Takeda/Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals. He was currently or formerly on the advisory boards of Appliance Computing Inc., Brain Cells Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Genentech, Johnson and Johnson, Takeda/Lundbeck, Targacept, and InfoMedic. He owns stock options in Appliance Computing Inc., Brain Cells Inc., and Medavante; has copyrights to the Clinical Positive Affect Scale and the MGH Structured Clinical Interview for the Montgomery Asberg Depression Scale exclusively licensed to the MGH Clinical Trials Network and Institute (CTNI). L.G.S. has served in the past year as a consultant for United Biosource Corporation, Clintara, Bracket, and Clinical Trials Network and Institute. The remaining authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Louisa G. Sylvia, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Staniford St., Suite 580, Boston, MA 02114 (e-mail:

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