Mindfulness Based Therapy and Veterans With PTSD
Mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) is an evidence-based intervention that has gained attention in recent years for its potential to treat psychiatric disorders. It often helps reduce depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder symptoms while relieving pain and chronic fatigue.
Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome, commonly referred to as PTSD, presents a major challenge for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan wars: how to cope with their combat experiences, emotional problems, and behavioral problems after they return home. This is especially true of those suffering from PTSD. Despite its prevalence among veterans, little is known about treating these disorders in these individuals.
Research has demonstrated the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation on symptoms related to various mental health conditions, such as PTSD. This practice helps people focus on the present moment without becoming overwhelmed by thoughts or sensations, and can be learned in a variety of ways.
Clinicians must understand how to instill mindfulness in their patients. It is especially essential for them to remember that they are not responsible for their feelings or thoughts; these are simply experiences that take place in the moment.
Training in mindfulness typically takes place through group therapy sessions led by a licensed mental health counselor or experienced instructor. These exercises encourage participants to pay attention to their internal experience rather than get caught up in emotions and thoughts.
A study of individuals with PTSD demonstrated that MBSR can increase medial prefrontal response to stress. Therefore, we hypothesized that this therapy might be beneficial for these individuals. To test this hypothesis, we performed positron-emission tomography scans on a sample of veterans enrolled in an MBSR treatment program.
We observed that MBSR treatment significantly improved PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. It also reduced the brain response to traumatic reminders of combat in the prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, those who received MBSR had enhanced connectivity in both prefrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortical regions – both associated with executive control – following treatment.
Participants in the MBSR group reported significantly decreased pain, fatigue and cognitive impairments compared to those in the active-control condition. This finding is significant as it suggests mindfulness-based stress reduction may be a promising treatment for these debilitating and life-threatening symptoms among this high-risk population.
This pilot study suggests that a brief 8-week mindfulness program may be effective in treating PTSD among military Veterans. The program involves teaching veterans silent mantram repetition, slowing their thoughts down, and one-pointed attention in a therapist-guided format.
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based psychotherapy for PTSD among veterans discharged from a Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center. A total of 58 participants were randomly assigned to either receive either the mindfulness-based stress reduction program or control group therapy that focused on current problems.