Caring for someone with a mental health condition can be exhausting, but researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) believe they have a viable solution: yoga breathing exercises.
According to a study recently published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the holistic mind-body system can help mental health caretakers address their own emotional well-being.
This self-care is critical, since these individuals are at risk for all sorts of physical and mental health problems. Study co-author Helen Lavretsky, who is the director of UCLA's Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program, agrees.
"We know that chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression," she wrote. "On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress."
She added that many mental health caretakers tend to be older, since their wards are often their partners or family members, many of whom have dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
In the U.S., more than 5 million adults care for someone with these illnesses. Because there is such a widespread need for mind-body wellness among these people, the UCLA team concluded that "a simple, low-cost yoga program can enhance coping and quality of life for the caregivers."