Tai Chi as a Complementary Therapy for Depression and Anxiety Among U.S. Veterans in a Mental Health Inpatient Setting

Author: Eileen R Jimenez1, Jorge Juarez2, Leeza Struwe3, Marlene Z Cohen4
1 Eileen Jimenez, PHD, RN, ACCNS-AG, CWON, California State University, Fresno, CA, USA.
2 Jorge Juarez, BSN, RN, IQCI, VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, Omaha, NE, USA.
3 Leeza Struwe, PHD, MSN, RN, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Lincoln, NE, USA.
4 Marlene Z. Cohen, PHD, RN, FAAN, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc
Date published: 2023 Sep 21
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/10783903231201592. , Word Count: 252

Depression and anxiety are two of the top five mental illnesses veterans report. Treatment for depression and anxiety includes medications and psychiatric treatment in inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment programs; the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can have beneficial results by decreasing symptoms, recognize patients' preference for CAM, and be cost-effective.

This study aimed to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi on depression and anxiety symptoms on inpatient psychosocial or substance use disorder (SUD) rehabilitation treatment program residents since little evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of Tai Chi on participants in residential mental health treatment programs. METHOD: A mixed-method, cohort design with 88 participants (41 usual treatment without Tai Chi, 47 intervention) used a demographic survey, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, self-report, and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 at Weeks 1 and 4 of the treatment program. After Week 4, the intervention group responded to six open-ended questions about Tai Chi's effects on their overall depression and anxiety.

The anxiety level of the intervention group was significantly decreased, as evidenced by the Hamilton Anxiety Scale scores (p = .02). However, the measures of depression did not differ between the groups. Two themes, mindfulness and satisfaction, were identified from the written responses regarding the Tai Chi intervention.

Tai Chi effectively reduced symptoms of anxiety that varied by age and ethnicity. This study increased the insight regarding the benefit of including Tai Chi as a complementary therapy for those participating in residential treatment programs.

Keywords: Tai Chi; anxiety; depression; residential treatment; veterans.

PMID: 37735880 DOI: 10.1177/10783903231201592