Reduce Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Yoga

 

Reduce Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The first step in yoga practice is to link the mind and body through the breath, bringing awareness to what is happening in the moment. Intense feelings and thoughts can be experienced and reduced in intensity as the mind becomes more still and calm and the body allows the sensations to pass. An experience of a deeper level of existence is possible allowing the body mind complex to feel peace and generate positive emotions and enter a transformative period. With repeated practice and guidance, a yoga practice can bring long term relief and a fresh perspective on life for PTSD sufferers.” – Art of Living

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for PTSD. If the practice was tailored for the patients’ specific traumas and environment perhaps it would be even more effective. In today’s Research News article “Military-Tailored Yoga for Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6086130/ ), Cushing and colleagues examine the effectiveness of a yoga practice that was tailored for military personnel and combat-related PTSD for the relief of PTSD symptoms of military veterans.

 

They recruited veterans of either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars who were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They were provided a weekly 60-minute yoga training for 6 weeks. The yoga training consisted of relaxation, postures, and body scan meditation. The participants were measured before and after the 6-week training for PTSD symptoms, anxiety, sleep quality, and mindfulness.

 

They found that after training there was a very large significant reduction in PTSD symptoms, including hyperarousal, re-experiencing, and avoidance symptoms. There were also large significant reductions in sleep disturbance and anxiety and increases in mindfulness. Hence, there were marked improvements in the psychological well-being of the combat veterans following yoga training.

 

The study suffers from the fact that there wasn’t a control, comparison, condition. As a result, the results might have been influenced by participant and experimenter biases. But, the observed changes were large and robust making it unlikely that they were due to contamination. The findings were also in line with previous findings in better controlled trial that mindfulness training is an effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD.

 

So, reduce symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with yoga.

 

“I-Rest can produce a number of important changes in PTSD sufferers, like improved sleep, moderated behavior, and better emotional regulation. It can even lead to a decreased pharmaceutical regimen for PTSD patients.” – Armin Rosen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cushing, R. E., Braun, K. L., Alden, S. W., & Katz, A. R. (2018). Military-Tailored Yoga for Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Military Medicine, 183(5-6), e223–e231. http://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usx071

 

Abstract

Introduction:

Among veterans of post-9/11 conflicts, estimates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) range from 9% shortly after returning from deployment to 31% a year after deployment. Clinical and pharmaceutically based treatments are underutilized. This could be due to concerns related to lost duty days, as well as PTSD patients’ fears of stigma of having a mental health condition. Yoga has been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms in the civilian population, but few studies have tested the impact of yoga on veterans of post-9/11 conflicts. The purpose of this study is to test the impact of yoga on post-9/11 veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

Materials and Methods:

Participants were 18 yr of age or older and veterans of post-9/11 conflicts. They had subthreshold or diagnostic-level PTSD related to their combat military service, as determined by a score of 30 or higher on the PTSD Checklist-Military version (PCL-M). Veterans participated in 60-min weekly yoga sessions for 6 wk taught by a Warriors at Ease-trained yoga instructor who is a, post-9/11 veteran. The yoga sessions incorporated Vinyasa-style yoga and a trauma-sensitive, military-culture informed approach advocated by two separate organizations: Warriors at Ease and Meghan’s Foundation. Data were collected at baseline and again after 7 wk. The primary outcome was PCL-M score. Participants also completed the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale at both time points.

Results:

Eighteen Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn veterans completed the pre- and post-intervention self-report questionnaires. Age ranged from 26 to 62 yr (median = 43 yr), length of service ranged from 2 to 34 yr (median = 18.8 yr), and 13 (72.2%) had completed college. Decreased PTSD symptomatology was demonstrated in the three-symptom clusters represented in the PCL-M (i.e., hyperarousal, re-experiencing, and avoidance). In addition, the total score on the PCL-M decreased significantly, by both statistical and clinical measures. The participants also demonstrated improved mindfulness scores and reported decreased insomnia, depression, and anxiety symptoms.

Conclusion:

This study demonstrates that a trauma-sensitive yoga intervention may be effective for veterans with PTSD symptoms, whether as stand-alone or adjunctive therapy. The impressive decrease in PTSD symptomatology may be due to the tailored military-specific nature of this intervention and the fact that it was led by a veteran of post-9/11 conflicts. More research is needed with a larger sample and a more diverse veteran population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6086130/

 

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Meditation or Yoga

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Meditation or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation helps bring about the kind of deep self-awareness, or mindfulness, that can create a therapeutic basis for reducing the symptoms of PTSD. We can meet difficult emotions, difficult memories, and difficult experiences through meditation,” Stephanie Lopez

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); about 7%-8%. PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, avoiding situations that remind them of the event memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are serious and troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Exercise also appears to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the meditation and yoga training in treating PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Meditation and Yoga for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939561/ ), Gallegos and colleagues reviewed, summarized and performed a meta-analysis of the 19 published randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) of the application of mindfulness training, meditation, and/or yoga for the treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. They found that the research reports that all techniques including mindfulness training, meditation, and yoga produced significant improvements in the symptoms of PTSD regardless of whether they were compared to active or inactive control conditions. They all had moderate to large effect sizes.

 

This summary of the research is very encouraging and suggests that mindfulness, meditation, and yoga training are safe and effective adjunctive treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is not known exactly how these trainings improve PTSD but they are known to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, improve the regulation of emotions, and reduce worry and rumination, all of which should be beneficial for PTSD sufferers.

 

So, improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with meditation or yoga.

 

“Veterans struggling with the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have new hope in helping to alleviate their symptoms with Mindful Yoga Therapy (MYT), according to research that finds the specific yoga practices in its protocol can help improve their physical and psychological well-being.” – Mindful Yoga Therapy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gallegos, A. M., Crean, H. F., Pigeon, W. R., & Heffner, K. L. (2017). Meditation and Yoga for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Clinical Psychology Review, 58, 115–124. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2017.10.004

 

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and debilitating disorder that affects the lives of 7-8% of adults in the U.S. Although several interventions demonstrate clinical effectiveness for treating PTSD, many patients continue to have residual symptoms and ask for a variety of treatment options. Complementary health approaches, such as meditation and yoga, hold promise for treating symptoms of PTSD. This meta-analysis evaluates the effect size (ES) of yoga and meditation on PTSD outcomes in adult patients. We also examined whether the intervention type, PTSD outcome measure, study population, sample size, or control condition moderated the effects of complementary approaches on PTSD outcomes. The studies included were 19 randomized control trials with data on 1,173 participants. A random effects model yielded a statistically significant ES in the small to medium range (ES = −.39, p < .001, 95% CI [−.57, −.22]). There were no appreciable differences between intervention types, study population, outcome measures, or control condition. There was, however, a marginally significant higher ES for sample size ≤ 30 (ES = −.78, k = 5). These findings suggest that meditation and yoga are promising complementary approaches in the treatment of PTSD among adults and warrant further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5939561/

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

Improve PTSD and Academic Burnout in Adolescents with Mindfulness and Parental Attachment

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); about 7%-8%. PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, avoiding situations that remind them of the event memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the relationship of individual mindfulness with the ability to cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. Adolescents have been found to be particularly vulnerable to the psychological impact of traumatic events. But, might be buffered by their positive attachment to their parents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/ ), An and colleagues examine the impact of mindfulness and parental support on the ability of adolescents to deal with trauma. In particular they examine youths about a year after a traumatic tornado in their community in China. The tornado killed 99 people, injured approximately 800 and affected more than 1.6 million people. They recruited junior High School students from the affected area and measured them for mindfulness, PTSD symptoms, academic burnout, and parental attachment.

 

They found that the higher the level of student’s mindfulness and parental attachment the lower the level of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout. In addition, the higher the level mindfulness the higher the level of parental attachment. Employing statistical modelling, they found that parental attachment being associated with to lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout was partially mediated by the student’s level of mindfulness. Hence, higher parental attachment was associated with lower PTSD symptoms and academic burnout directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of mindfulness which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of PTSD symptoms and academic burnout.

 

These are interesting results but they must be interpreted cautiously as the study was correlational. As a result, causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the results suggest that having a positive attachment to parents helps to buffer the adolescent from the effects of trauma and it does so, in part, by improving the youths’ ability to be present in the moment; mindfulness. It can be speculated that positive attachment makes the youth more secure and thereby more able to perceive reality just as it is and not be overly affected by previous negative events. This, in turn, allows them to be more effective in relation to their schooling, reducing burnout.

 

Since, trauma occurs in such a large proportion of the population, producing tremendous suffering, it is important to find ways to lessen its impact. The results suggest that being a good parent and attaching in a positive way with your child promotes mindfulness and my buffer the child from the effects of experiencing a traumatic event.

 

So, improve PTSD and academic burnout in adolescents with mindfulness and parental attachment.

 

“The memories are so painful that many live their life trying to avoid triggers. The problem is that the triggers are everywhere.” But the development of better mindfulness skills “might allow patients to be fully present and lean into these scary or avoided situations.” – Tony King

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

An, Y., Yuan, G., Liu, Z., Zhou, Y., & Xu, W. (2018). Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships of parental attachment to posttraumatic stress disorder and academic burnout in adolescents following the Yancheng tornado. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 9(1), 1472989. http://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2018.1472989

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with PTSD and academic burnout.
  • We found that parental attachment and dispositional mindfulness are both negatively correlated with academic burnout.
  • We found that dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationships between parental attachment and PTSD and academic burnout

ABSTRACT

Background: Previous studies have shown that parental attachment is associated with low severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and low academic burnout in individuals who have experienced traumatic events.

Objective: The present study investigated the ways in which parental attachment is related to PTSD symptoms and academic burnout in Chinese traumatized adolescents by considering the role of dispositional mindfulness.

Method: A total of 443 Chinese adolescents who had experienced a severe tornado one year prior to this study completed measures of parental attachment, dispositional mindfulness, PTSD and academic burnout.

Results: The results showed that our model fitted the data well [χ2/df = 2.968, CFI = 0.971, TLI = 0.955, RMSEA (90% CI) = 0.067 (0.052–0.082)] and revealed that dispositional mindfulness partially mediates the relationship between parental attachment, PTSD severity and academic burnout.

Conclusions: The findings suggested that dispositional mindfulness and parental attachment may be two critical resources in dealing with traumatization and academic burnout.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5965031/

Improve PTSD After Sexual Trauma with Mindfulness Plus Exercise

Improve PTSD After Sexual Trauma with Mindfulness Plus Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Clinical studies have shown that mindfulness-based treatments can be helpful for people suffering from PTSD. The non-judgmental outlook that mindfulness works to cultivate can help folks accept their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, and reduce the avoidance, intrusive thoughts, and numbness symptoms characteristic of PTSD. Mindfulness practices may decrease survivors’ feelings of guilt, shame, and other negative emotions, and increase their positive feelings toward themselves and others.” – Jezmina Von Thiele

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. Many, but, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. PTSD can be produced by interpersonal violence which includes physical or sexual violence. Sexual violence is all too common with 1 out of every 6 women having experienced attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are serious and troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. Exercise also appears to be effective in treating the symptoms of PTSD. So, it would seem reasonable to examine the combination of exercise and mindfulness training in treating PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “MAP Training My Brain™: Meditation Plus Aerobic Exercise Lessens Trauma of Sexual Violence More Than Either Activity Alone.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924799/ ), Shors and colleagues recruited adult college women and randomly assigned them to one of four conditions; meditation, aerobic exercise, meditation plus aerobic exercise, or no treatment. Meditation and aerobic exercise sessions lasted 30 minutes each. There were 2 sessions per week for 6 weeks. They were measured before and after training for thoughts and feelings following trauma, self-worth, rumination, and stressful life memories.

 

They found that after the combined meditation plus exercise condition and meditation alone, but not exercise alone or no treatment, there was a significant reduction in thoughts and feelings following trauma. They also found that only after the combined meditation plus exercise condition were there significant reductions in rumination and increases in self-worth. When women who had experience sexual trauma were examined, they found that only after the combined meditation plus exercise condition, were there significant reductions in thoughts and feelings following trauma, and rumination and increases in self-worth.

 

These results suggest that the combination of exercise plus meditation is much more effective in reducing trauma related psychological symptoms than either alone especially in women who had experienced sexual trauma. This suggests that treating both the mind and the body is particularly effective in dealing with the psychological sequela of trauma. It will be interesting in future research to see if this is also true in treating PTSD in men and with physical and combat trauma.

 

So, improve PTSD after sexual trauma with mindfulness plus exercise.

 

“Women who experience sexual violence, and people who experience trauma, tend to ruminate over what happened—asking themselves why it happened or if they could have done something differently. The more you think about it, the more you go over the memories, the more memories you make. MAP Training diminished those thoughts in women who experienced violence.” – Tracey Shors

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tracey J. Shors, Han Y. M. Chang, Emma M. Millon. MAP Training My Brain™: Meditation Plus Aerobic Exercise Lessens Trauma of Sexual Violence More Than Either Activity Alone. Front Neurosci. 2018; 12: 211. Published online 2018 Apr 23. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00211

 

Abstract

Sexual violence against women often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental illness characterized by intrusive thoughts and memories about the traumatic event (Shors and Millon, 2016). These mental processes are obviously generated by the brain but often felt in the body. MAP Training My Brain™ is a novel clinical intervention that combines mental training of the brain with physical training of the body (Curlik and Shors, 2013; Shors et al., 2014). Each training session begins with 20-min of sitting meditation, followed by 10-min of slow-walking meditation, and ending with 30-min of aerobic exercise at 60–80% of the maximum heart rate (see maptrainmybrain.com). In previous studies, the combination of mental and physical (MAP) training together significantly reduced symptoms of depression and ruminative thoughts, while reducing anxiety (Shors et al., 20142017; Alderman et al., 2016). We also documented positive changes in brain activity during cognitive control and whole-body oxygen consumption in various populations. In the present pilot study, we asked whether the combination of meditation and aerobic exercise during MAP Training would reduce trauma-related thoughts, ruminations, and memories in women and if so, whether the combination would be more effective than either activity alone. To test this hypothesis, interventions were provided to a group of women (n = 105), many of whom had a history of sexual violence (n = 32). Groups were trained with (1) MAP Training, (2) meditation alone, (3) aerobic exercise alone, or (4) not trained. Individuals in training groups completed two sessions a week for at least 6 weeks. MAP Training My Brain™ significantly reduced post-traumatic cognitions and ruminative thoughts in women with a history of sexual violence, whereas meditation alone, and exercise alone did not. MAP Training significantly enhanced a measure of self-worth, whereas meditation and exercise alone did not. Similar positive effects were observed for all participants, although meditation alone was also effective in reducing trauma-related thoughts. Overall, these data indicate the combination of meditation and exercise is synergistic. As a consequence, MAP Training is preferable and especially so for women who have experienced sexual violence in their past. Simply put, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924799/

 

Relieve the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Mindfulness

Relieve the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. But, it is not known which components of mindfulness training are effective and which are not. In today’s Research News article “A Qualitative Study of Mindfulness Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Practices Differentially Affect Symptoms, Aspects of Well-Being, and Potential Mechanisms of Action.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871168/ ), Colgan and colleagues recruited military veterans with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)and assigned them to practice either body scan, mindful breathing, slow breathing, or sitting quietly. The veterans were trained once a week for six weeks for 20 minutes. They were asked to practice once daily at home. After the interventions they were interviewed and asked “Did you benefit from the intervention?” and “Did your PTSD symptoms improve?” Their responses were recorded, transcribed and subjected to qualitative analysis.

 

They found that the participants in the mindfulness conditions of mindful breathing and body scan reported significantly greater improvements in PTSD symptoms than participants who practiced either slow breathing or sitting quietly. They reported “enhanced present moment awareness, increased nonreactivity, increased nonjudgmental acceptance, decreased physiological arousal and stress reactivity, increased active coping skills, and greater relaxation.“

 

These findings are consistent with the literature that mindfulness training is effective in relieving the symptoms of PTSD. These findings, however, begin to identify the effective components of mindfulness trainings. For, example Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is frequently used as an intervention for PTSD. MBSR, however, is a package of techniques including meditation, body scan, and yoga. It is not clear which of these components is necessary and sufficient for the relief of the symptoms of PTSD. The present findings demonstrate that either body scan alone or mindful breathing alone are effective, but simply sitting quietly or slow breathing are not. In other words, only those practices that produce mindfulness are effective. This suggests that the induction of mindfulness is the critical component for the effectiveness of the technique to relieve the symptoms of PTSD.

 

So, relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness practices can be very helpful in relieving the symptoms of toxic stress and PTSD, however, some caution is advised. It is important to choose the practices that fit the learning style and tolerance levels of the person who uses them.” – Trauma Recovery

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Colgan, D. D., Wahbeh, H., Pleet, M., Besler, K., & Christopher, M. (2017). A Qualitative Study of Mindfulness Among Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Practices Differentially Affect Symptoms, Aspects of Well-Being, and Potential Mechanisms of Action. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(3), 482–493. http://doi.org/10.1177/2156587216684999

 

Abstract

This qualitative study explored and compared the subjective experiences of 102 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 arms: (a) body scan, (b) mindful breathing, (c) slow breathing, or (d) sitting quietly. Qualitative data were obtained via semistructured interviews following the intervention and analyzed using conventional content analysis. The percentage of participants within each intervention who endorsed a specific theme was calculated. Two-proportion z tests were then calculated to determine if the differences among themes endorsed in specific groups were statistically significant. Six core themes emerged from analysis of participant responses across the 4 groups: (a) enhanced present moment awareness, (b) increased nonreactivity, (c) increased nonjudgmental acceptance, (d) decreased physiological arousal and stress reactivity, (e) increased active coping skills, and (f) greater relaxation. More participants in the mindfulness intervention groups reported improvement in PTSD symptoms when compared to participants in non-mindfulness groups. Different types of intervention targeted different symptoms and aspects of well-being. Furthermore, type of intervention may have also differentially targeted potential mechanisms of action. This article highlights the importance of employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods when investigating the dynamic process of mindfulness and may inform how practices can be tailored to the needs of the veteran with PTSD.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871168/

 

Reduce the Symptoms of PTSD with Yoga

Reduce the Symptoms of PTSD with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“It can be very difficult to stay in your own body when you’re getting flashbacks. The lighting changes, and you feel like you’re not even in the room. . . . [Yoga] reminds me that if I just keep plodding along, I can get there,” she says. “I can face it in little chunks and say, “I can work with this piece.'” – Denise Wills

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effective. In addition, yoga has been shown to help relieve the symptoms of PTSD. In today’s Research News article “Yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder – a systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863799/ ), Cramer and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials of the application of yoga practice for the treatment of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 

They found 7 randomized controlled trials on 284 patients. They found that most of the research was of low quality. But, these studies found that yoga practice produced significant improvements in PTSD symptoms. There was good retention of participants in the yoga practice groups. In addition, there were no significant adverse events reported. Hence, they found that the published literature suggests that yoga practice is helpful for the relief of the symptoms of PTSD but the evidence was rather weak. This strongly suggests that better controlled, larger randomized controlled trials are needed.

 

Yoga is a complex practice, usually involving multiple components of postures, breathing exercises and meditation. It is not known which of these components or which combinations are necessary for effectiveness. The sole piece of evidence found was that the trial that did not contain the postures component did not find significant relief of symptoms. This suggests that the practice of yoga postures is the critical component.

 

So, reduce the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with yoga.

 

“The first step in yoga practice is to link the mind and body through the breath, bringing awareness to what is happening in the moment. Intense feelings and thoughts can be experienced and reduced in intensity as the mind becomes more still and calm and the body allows the sensations to pass. An experience of a deeper level of existence is possible allowing the body mind complex to feel peace and generate positive emotions and enter a transformative period. With repeated practice and guidance, a yoga practice can bring long term relief and a fresh perspective on life for PTSD sufferers.” – The Art of Living

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Cramer, H., Anheyer, D., Saha, F. J., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 18, 72. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1650-x

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga is increasingly used as a therapeutic treatment and seems to improve psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders and depression. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the evidence of yoga for reducing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods

The Cochrane Library, Medline/PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, and IndMED were searched through July 2017 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effects of yoga on symptoms of PTSD. Mean differences (MD) and standardized mean differences (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed. The quality of evidence and the strength of recommendation were graded according to the GRADE recommendations.

Results

Seven RCTs (N = 284) were included. Meta-analysis revealed low quality evidence for clinically relevant effects of yoga on PTSD symptoms compared to no treatment (SMD = − 1.10, 95% CI [− 1.72, − 0.47], p < .001, I2 = 72%; MD = − 13.11, 95% CI [− 17.95, − 8.27]); and very low evidence for comparable effects of yoga and attention control interventions (SMD = − 0.31, 95%CI = [− 0.84, 0.22], p = .25; I2 = 43%). Very low evidence was found for comparable retention of patients in the trial for yoga and no treatment (OR = 0.68, 95%CI [0.06, 7.72]) or attention control interventions (OR = 0.66, 95%CI [0.10, 4.46]). No serious adverse events were reported.

Limitations

Few RCTs with only limited sample size were available.

Conclusions

Only a weak recommendation for yoga as an adjunctive intervention for PTSD can be made. More high quality research is needed to confirm or disconfirm these findings.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5863799/

 

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Overall, there is a lot of evidence supporting mindfulness as a treatment approach for adults with PTSD, and a recent burgeoning literature corroborating positive neurological changes is following suit.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11% – 20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effectiveMindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve PTSD symptoms. It has been shown that mindfulness practices can alter the brain structures and connectivity and this may underlie the beneficial effects of mindfulness on PTSD.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747539/ ), Boyd and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness training on the brain and its relationship to improvements in PTSD symptoms. They report that there is substantial evidence that a variety of mindfulness-based treatments including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Loving Kindness Meditation are effective for relieving the symptoms of PTSD.

 

In regards to brain function, they report that mindfulness practices result in greater activity in the prefrontal cortex, structures that are involved in higher level thought processes and attention and lower activity in the amygdala region that is associated with emotional arousal. In addition, there is increased connectivity between these two regions. This could explain the ability of mindfulness practices to reduce hyperarousal and emotionality with more rational thought and improvement in emotional regulation. In addition, they report that a series of midline cortical structures labelled the default mode network (DMN) have increased connectivity, suggesting an improvement in self-referential thinking.

 

There is increased activity in a series of cortical structures that connect to lower centers in the brain labelled the salience network (SN) that appears to be involved in detecting particularly important stimuli and regulating emotional responses to them. This may result in the PTSD sufferer having a greater ability to respond appropriately to things in the environment that may have previously produced flashbacks and hyperarousal. Finally, mindfulness training appears to improve the activity and connectivity of the brain’s Central Executive Network (CEN), including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the posterior parietal cortex, that is associated with high level thinking.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness training alters brain function to increase thinking and reasoning in contrast to emotional arousal. This is exactly what the PTSD patient needs as PTSD tends to produce the opposite pattern with decreased reasoning and increased emotional responding. Hence these findings suggest that mindfulness training acts on the nervous system to counter the abnormal brain responses that occur with PTSD and thereby relieve the symptoms of PTSD. Obviously much more research is needed. But a coherent picture is emerging of the alterations in the nervous system produced by mindfulness training that are responsible for its beneficial effects on the symptoms of PTSD.

 

So, improve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with mindfulness.

 

“This type of attention training may help patients notice when they are stuck in a negative pattern of thought or rumination and make it a little easier to shift their attention to other things. And if you think about what mindfulness meditation is, that makes perfect sense. The ‘muscle’ that you are training is the ability to catch yourself when you are not thinking about your breath and move it to something else.” – Tony King

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jenna E. Boyd, Ruth A. Lanius, Margaret C. McKinnon. Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2018 Jan; 43(1): 7–25. Published online 2017 Oct 3. doi: 10.1503/jpn.170021

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have emerged as promising adjunctive or alternative intervention approaches. A scoping review of the literature on PTSD treatment studies, including approaches such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and metta mindfulness, reveals low attrition with medium to large effect sizes. We review the convergence between neurobiological models of PTSD and neuroimaging findings in the mindfulness literature, where mindfulness interventions may target emotional under- and overmodulation, both of which are critical features of PTSD symptomatology. Recent emerging work indicates that mindfulness-based treatments may also be effective in restoring connectivity between large-scale brain networks among individuals with PTSD, including connectivity between the default mode network and the central executive and salience networks. Future directions, including further identification of the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness interventions in patients with PTSD and direct comparison of these interventions to first-line treatments for PTSD are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747539/

Improve Mental Illness with Yoga

Improve Mental Illness with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“for the general person, yoga greatly enhances mental health: mood, sense of self, motivation, sense of inner direction and purpose, as well as physical health—and physical health is so important for mental health.“– Eleanor Criswell

 

Yoga is a complex of practices including postures, movements, breathing practices and meditation. Although its benefits have been touted for centuries, it is only recently that scientific study was verified these benefits. Yoga practice has been repeatedly demonstrated in research studies to be beneficial for the psychological and physical health of the practitioners. It appears to be helpful for both healthy individuals and those suffering from physical and mental health issues.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Efficacy of Body-Oriented Yoga in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400032/ ),

Klatte and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature on effects of yoga practice on a variety of mental health problems. They focused on randomized controlled studies with adults suffering from psychiatric problems. They identified 25 published studies that met their criteria, including treatment of depression, schizophrenia, dependency, post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses.

 

They found that yoga practice produced, on the whole, large and significant improvements in the symptoms of the mental illnesses even in comparison to active control groups such as attention training and exercise. The beneficial effects of yoga practice were comparable to those produced by psychotherapy. But, the combination of yoga practice with psychotherapy produced even greater effects.

 

These are exciting and compelling findings that yoga practice is an effective treatment for mental illness on a par with individual psychotherapy. But, yoga practice has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, can be practiced at home or in groups, and after a few weeks of instruction can be carried on without a therapist present. In addition, it can supplement traditional psychotherapy potentiating its effectiveness.

 

It would appear that the exercise component of yoga practice is not essential for its effectiveness as exercise only control groups show benefits but significantly less than the yoga practice groups. This suggests that the improvement of mindfulness that occurs in yoga practice has an additional beneficial role to play in treating mental illness. The combination of exercise with mindfulness training that occur with yoga  practice appears to be particularly effective in treating mental illnesses. These results suggest that yoga practice is safe and effective and should applied either as a stand-alone treatment or be combined with more traditional treatments.

 

So, improve mental illness with yoga.

 

“It will come as no surprise that the various forms of yoga have long been acknowledged as allies in mastering the mind and coping with stress. Science is Increasingly validating those claims, especially for depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).” – Mental Health America

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Klatte, R., Pabst, S., Beelmann, A., & Rosendahl, J. (2016). The Efficacy of Body-Oriented Yoga in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 113(12), 195–202. http://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2016.0195

Abstract

Background

The efficacy of body-oriented yoga in the treatment of mental disorders has been investigated in numerous studies. This article is a systematic review and meta-analysis of the relevant publications.

Methods

All studies in which the efficacy of hatha-yoga, i.e., body-oriented yoga with asanas and pranayama, was studied in adult patients suffering from a mental disorder (as diagnosed by ICD or DSM criteria) were included in the analysis. The primary endpoint was disorder-specific symptom severity. The publications were identified by a systematic search in the PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO and ProQuest databases, supplemented by a search with the Google Scholar search engine and a manual search in the reference lists of meta-analyses and primary studies, as well as in specialized journals.

Results

25 studies with a total of 1339 patients were included in the analysis. A large and significant effect of yoga was seen with respect to the primary endpoint (symptom severity) (Hedges’ g = 0.91; 95% confidence interval [0.55; 1.28]; number needed to treat [NNT]: 2.03), with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 69.8%) compared to untreated control groups. Small but significant effects of yoga were also seen in comparison with attention control (g = 0.39; [0.04; 0.73]; NNT: 4.55) and physical exercise (g = 0.30; [0.01; 0.59]; NNT: 5.75); no difference in efficacy was found between yoga and standard psychotherapy (g = 0.08; [-0.24; 0,40]; NNT: 21.89). In view of the relatively high risk of bias, these findings should be interpreted with caution.

Conclusion

Body-oriented yoga with asanas and pranayama as central components is a promising complementary treatment for mental disorders and should be investigated in further high-quality studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400032/

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Combat Veterans with Mindfulness

Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Combat Veterans with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness-based approaches have been shown to be useful for problems commonly seen in trauma survivors such as anxiety and hyperarousal. Mindfulness practice has potential to be of benefit to individuals with PTSD, either as a tertiary or a stand-alone treatment.” – National Center for PTSD

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11% – 20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD. One of which, mindfulness training has been found to be particularly effectiveMindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve PTSD symptoms. MBSR involves a combination of mindfulness practices including, meditation, body scan, and yoga. In today’s Research News article “A Pilot Study of the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Brain Response to Traumatic Reminders of Combat in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Combat Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574875/, Bremner and colleagues examine the effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the treatment of PTSD in combat veterans.

 

They recruited combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and randomly assigned them to receive either an 8-week program of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Present-Centered Group Therapy (PCGT). PCGT involved 8-weeks of psycho-education and group discussion of present day problems. They were measured before and after treatment and 6 months later for PTSD symptoms, psychiatric issues, mindfulness, and spiritual well-being. The veterans also underwent a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain scan while viewing pictures of the Iraq war or neutral pictures.

 

They found that MBSR, but not the control PCGT condition, produced significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, particularly avoidance and hyperarousal, and increases in mindfulness that were maintained even 6-months after the end of treatment. All of the veterans showed increased activation in frontal and temporal cortical regions and decreased activation in subcortical areas when viewing combat related pictures. After MBSR, in comparison to baseline and the control group, the veterans had significantly increased activation of the anterior cingulate and inferior parietal cortex, and decreased activation in the insula and precuneus. Activation of the anterior cingulate cortex is associated with improved emotion regulation and has been previously associated with relief of trauma symptoms while decreased activity in the insula has been associated with decreases in hyperarousal.

 

The results of this pilot study are interesting and potentially important. The study is unusual in that it had an active control condition that improves the strength of the conclusions. The results demonstrate that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produces lasting improvements in PTSD symptoms in combat veterans. They also show that MBSR produces changes in the nervous system areas that may underlie the symptoms. Hence, MBSR appears to be a safe and effective treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can relieve the suffering resulting from trauma.

 

So, improve post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction approaches are likely to work just as well for non-veterans who have been exposed to civilian traumas such as physical or sexual assaults.” Alan Peterson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bremner, J. D., Mishra, S., Campanella, C., Shah, M., Kasher, N., Evans, S., … Carmody, J. (2017). A Pilot Study of the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms and Brain Response to Traumatic Reminders of Combat in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Combat Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8, 157. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00157

 

Abstract

Objective

Brain imaging studies in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have implicated a circuitry of brain regions including the medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, parietal cortex, and insula. Pharmacological treatment studies have shown a reversal of medial prefrontal deficits in response to traumatic reminders. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a promising non-pharmacologic approach to the treatment of anxiety and pain disorders. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of MBSR on PTSD symptoms and brain response to traumatic reminders measured with positron-emission tomography (PET) in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) combat veterans with PTSD. We hypothesized that MBSR would show increased prefrontal response to stress and improved PTSD symptoms in veterans with PTSD.

Method

Twenty-six OEF/OIF combat veterans with PTSD who had recently returned from a combat zone were block randomized to receive eight sessions of MBSR or present-centered group therapy (PCGT). PTSD patients underwent assessment of PTSD symptoms with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), mindfulness with the Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and brain imaging using PET in conjunction with exposure to neutral and Iraq combat-related slides and sound before and after treatment. Nine patients in the MBSR group and 8 in the PCGT group completed all study procedures.

Results

Post-traumatic stress disorder patients treated with MBSR (but not PCGT) had an improvement in PTSD symptoms measured with the CAPS that persisted for 6 months after treatment. MBSR also resulted in an increase in mindfulness measured with the FFMQ. MBSR-treated patients had increased anterior cingulate and inferior parietal lobule and decreased insula and precuneus function in response to traumatic reminders compared to the PCGT group.

Conclusion

This study shows that MBSR is a safe and effective treatment for PTSD. Furthermore, MBSR treatment is associated with changes in brain regions that have been implicated in PTSD and are involved in extinction of fear responses to traumatic memories as well as regulation of the stress response.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574875/

Improve Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

Improve Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mind-body exercise offers a low-cost approach that could be used as a complement to traditional psychotherapy or drug treatments. These self-directed practices give PTSD patients control over their own treatment and have few side effects.” – Sang Kim

 

Experiencing trauma is quite common. It has been estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a significant traumatic event during their lifetime. But, only a fraction will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But this still results in a frightening number of people with 7%-8% of the population developing PTSD at some point in their life. For military personnel, it’s much more likely for PTSD to develop with about 11%-20% of those who have served in a war zone developing PTSD.

 

PTSD involves a number of troubling symptoms including reliving the event with the same fear and horror in nightmares or with a flashback. PTSD sufferers avoid situations that remind them of the event this may include crowds, driving, movies, etc. and may avoid seeking help because it keeps them from having to think or talk about the event. They often experience negative changes in beliefs and feelings including difficulty experiencing positive or loving feelings toward other people, avoiding relationships, memory difficulties, or see the world as dangerous and no one can be trusted. Sufferers may feel hyperarousal, feeling keyed up and jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. They may experience sudden anger or irritability, may have a hard time sleeping or concentrating, may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.

 

Obviously, these are troubling symptoms that need to be addressed. There are a number of therapies that have been developed to treat PTSD including, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It includes body scan, meditation, and yoga practices. Although MBSR has been used successfully to treat PTSD, it has always been implemented in addition to other treatments and has never been examined as a stand-alone treatment. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as a Standalone Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Mixed Traumatic Events: A Mixed-Methods Feasibility Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01407/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_388380_69_Psycho_20170912_arts_A, Müller-Engelmann and colleagues examine the efficacy of MBSR as a stand-alone treatment for PTSD.

 

They recruited adult male and female patients who were diagnosed with PTSD as the result of experiencing interpersonal violence.  Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was administered in 8 weekly-2 ½ hour sessions in combination with required practice at home. The patients were measured before and after treatment for mindfulness, depression, PTSD symptoms, trauma symptoms, and experience with the program. They were also interviewed after the program regarding their experience with and feelings about the program.

 

They found that following treatment there were significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and in depression. Also, they found that the greater the increase in mindfulness the greater the decrease in PTSD symptoms. During post-treatment interviews the patients reported an overall increase in their sense of well-being. No adverse reactions were observed. Hence, MBSR treatment appeared to be an acceptable, safe, and effective stand-alone treatment for PTSD.

 

It should be noted that there was not a control or comparison condition. This markedly limits the ability to conclude that MBSR was responsible for the improvements. There is a need to perform a randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control condition. In addition, over a third of the patients who started the program dropped out. The drop-outs had significantly greater PTSD symptoms than the completers. This suggests that modifications of the program must be undertaken to keep the most severely affected patients in the program. Nevertheless, the findings are encouraging and justify further research.

 

So, improve posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with mindfulness.

 

“People who practiced mindfulness meditation about half an hour a day for 8 weeks saw a change in several brain structures related to learning, memory, emotion, and the fear response. These are all things that play a role in post-traumatic stress responses.” – Sara Staggs

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Müller-Engelmann M, Wünsch S, Volk M and Steil R (2017) Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as a Standalone Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after Mixed Traumatic Events: A Mixed-Methods Feasibility Study. Front. Psychol. 8:1407. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01407

 

Abstract

Objectives: There is promising evidence that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in reducing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, until now, studies have often lacked a full clinical PTSD assessment, and interventions are often administered in addition to other interventions. This study examined the feasibility of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as a standalone intervention in patients with PTSD who have experienced mixed traumatic events.

Method: Fourteen patients participated in 8 weeks of MBSR. The patients were assessed prior to treatment, post-treatment and at a 1-month follow-up through self-ratings (e.g., the Davidson Trauma Scale) and the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale to determine the effects of the intervention. Furthermore, after the intervention, the patients participated in qualitative interviews regarding their experiences with MBSR and their ideas for future improvements.

Results: Nine patients finished the program, and these patients considered the exercises to be applicable and helpful. In the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, we found large effects regarding the reduction of PTSD symptoms among completers (Cohen’s d = 1.2). In the Davidson Trauma Scale, the effect sizes were somewhat lower (Cohen’s d = 0.6) but nevertheless confirmed the efficacy of MBSR in reducing PTSD symptoms. In the qualitative interviews, the patients reported an augmentation of wellbeing and improvement regarding the handling of difficult situations and more distance from the traumatic event.

Conclusion: Despite the large effects, the high dropout rates and the results of the post-treatment interviews suggest that the intervention should be better adapted to the needs of PTSD patients, e.g., by giving more information regarding the exercises and by including shorter exercises to manage acute distress.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01407/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_388380_69_Psycho_20170912_arts_A