What’s This Research About?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 1.3 million adults in the US. Many people are familiar with the most common symptoms of swollen and painful joints with this condition. Lesser known symptoms are system-wide comorbidities of this disease due to its dysregulation of the immune system and resultant inflammatory state. Depression is one of these accompanying symptoms that has been found to be 17% higher in RA patients. The researchers “suggested that systemic inflammation may be associated with, cause, or contribute to depressive symptoms during disorders of chronic inflammation.”

Depression is often not properly addressed in RA, yet can become a debilitating risk factor because it contributes to a lack of adherence to exercise and medication, reduced quality of life, and minimized treatment response.

The researchers primary focus in this study was to investigate the effects of a mind-body intervention such as yoga on the bio-markers in the blood signaling systemic inflammation, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate, pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines, as well as signs of neuroplasticity (serotonin and beta endorphins), cellular health, and cellular aging (telomerase activity and telomere length). Their secondary focus was to assess yoga’s impact on the severity of depression and quality of life.

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