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Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and the Use of Mind-Body Therapies

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(6):e520-e526
10.4088/JCP.12m08246

Objective: Neuropsychiatric symptoms affect 37% of US adults and present in many important diagnoses including posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain. However, these symptoms are difficult to treat with standard treatments, and patients may seek alternative options. In this study, we examined the use of mind-body therapies by adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Method: We compared mind-body therapy use (biofeedback, energy healing, meditation, guided imagery, yoga, deep-breathing exercises, hypnosis, progressive relaxation therapy, qigong, and tai chi) between adults with and without neuropsychiatric symptoms (anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, memory deficits, attention deficits, and excessive daytime sleepiness) in the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (N = 23,393). Use of ≥ 1 of these therapies in the prior 12 months was the primary outcome of interest. We also examined prevalence and reasons for mind-body therapy use in adults with neuropsychiatric symptoms. We performed logistic regression to examine the association between neuropsychiatric symptoms and mind-body therapy use to adjust for sociodemographic and clinical factors.

Results: Adults with ≥ 1 neuropsychiatric symptom used mind-body therapies more than adults without symptoms (25.3% vs 15.0%, P < .001). Prevalence increased with increasing number of symptoms (21.5% for 1 symptom, 32.4% for ≥ 3 symptoms, P < .001); differences persisted after adjustment for potential confounders (odds ratios, 1.39 [95% CI, 1.26–1.53] and 2.48 [95% CI, 2.18–2.82]). Reasons for mind-body therapy use among adults with ≥ 1 symptom included the ineffectiveness or expense of conventional medicine (30.2%). Most adults (nearly 70%) with ≥ 1 symptom did not discuss their mind-body therapy use with a conventional provider.

Conclusions: Adults with ≥ 1 neuropsychiatric symptom use mind-body therapies frequently; more symptoms are associated with increased use. Future research is needed to understand the efficacy of these therapies.

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(6):e520–e526

Submitted: October 25, 2012; accepted December 27, 2012 (doi:10.4088/JCP.12m08246).

Corresponding author: Maulik P. Purohit, MD, MPH, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network, 125 Nashua St, #720, Boston, MA 02114 (mpurohit1@partners.org).