A Randomized Controlled Trial of Tai Chi Chih or Health Education for Geriatric Depression

Author: Helen Lavretsky1, Michaela M Milillo2, Lisa Kilpatrick2, Adrienne Grzenda2, Pauline Wu2, Sarah A Nguyen2, Linda M Ercoli2, Prabha Siddarth2
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. Electronic address: hlavretsky@mednet.ucla.edu. <sup>2</sup> Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
Conference/Journal: Am J Geriatr Psychiatry
Date published: 2021 Jul 30
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2021.07.008. , Word Count: 222

Geriatric depression is difficult to treat and frequently accompanied by treatment resistance, suicidal ideations and polypharmacy. New adjunctive mind-body treatment strategies can improve clinical outcomes in geriatric depression and reduce risk for side-effects of pharmacological treatments.

We conducted a 3-month randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy and tolerability of combining Tai Chi Chih (TCC) or Health Education and Wellness training (HEW) with the stable standard antidepressant treatment on mood and cognitive functioning in depressed older adults (NCT02460666). Primary outcome was change in depression as assessed by the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) post-treatment. Remission was defined as HAM-D ≤ 6; naturalistic follow-up continued for 6 months. We also assessed psychological resilience, health-related quality of life and cognition.

Of the 178 randomized participants, 125 completed the 3-month assessment and 117 completed the 6-month assessment. Dropout and tolerability did not differ between groups. Remission rate within TCC was 35.5% and 33.3%, compared to 27.0% and 45.8% in HEW, at 3 and 6 months respectively (χ2(1) = 1.0, p = 0.3; χ2(1) = 1.9, p =0.2). Both groups improved significantly on the HAM-D at 3 and 6 months. TCC demonstrated a greater improvement in general health compared to HEW.

Both TCC and HEW combined with a standard antidepressant treatment improved symptoms of depression in older adults. While TCC was superior to HEW in improving general health, we did not find group differences in improvement in mood and cognition.

PMID: 34404606 DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2021.07.008