1. This study demonstrated that both breath-work and chanting reduced levels of anxiety, depression, stress, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
2. There were no trials identified which investigated the impact of singing or movements on mental health outcomes.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Before the advent of mental health interventions, religious and spiritual (R/S) traditions played an important role in addressing mental health concerns. Among such traditions, there is a paucity of evidence evaluating the role of R/S sensorimotor practices on mental health outcomes. As a result, the present systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCT) sought to investigate four R/S sensorimotor practices on anxiety, depression, stress, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Of 643 screened records, 15 (n=982 participants) were included in the final analysis. Studies were included if they investigated the effects of at least one of four sensorimotor practices (breath-work/chanting/singing/movements) on four mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, stress, and PTSD symptoms). Studies that measured mental health symptoms using physiological biomarkers were excluded. The quality of the studies was assessed through the PEDro as well as the Cochrane risk of bias tool.
Results demonstrated that both breath-work and chanting reduced levels of anxiety, depression, stress, and symptoms of PTSD. Furthermore, there were no trials identified which investigated the impact of singing or movements on mental health outcomes. However, the study was limited by the exclusion of studies that were non-English and grey literature, therefore some relevant literature may have been overlooked. Nonetheless, the present findings suggest that both breath-work and chanting can potentially be considered as an adjunct to current interventions to improve mental health outcomes.
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