Lower PTSD Symptoms and Risk of Suicide in Firefighters are Associated with Mindfulness

Lower PTSD Symptoms and Risk of Suicide in Firefighters are Associated with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“I’m convinced [mindfulness] could be a powerful antidote to what I see happening to my peers, both as retirees and active personnel. We have high rates of suicide and PTSD. It can lead you to some pretty dark places.” – Gary Gonzalez

 

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 with 7%-8% of the population developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It 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.

 

First responders such as firefighters and police experience traumatic events as part of their jobs and many develop symptoms of PTSD. This is responsible for the fact that wore firefighters and police officers die by suicide than all line-of-duty deaths combined. 103 firefighters and 140 police officers died by suicide in 2017, compared to 93 firefighter and 129 officer line-of-duty deaths. Obviously, this is a troubling problem that needs 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.  Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to has been shown to reduce suicidality and to reduce the impact of trauma on the individual.

 

In today’s Research News article “Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and mindfulness facets in relation to suicide risk among firefighters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6434694/), Stanley and colleagues examine the relationship of mindfulness to PTSD symptoms and suicide risk in firefighters. They recruited firefighters (94% male) and had them complete an online survey measuring mindfulness, lifetime exposure to trauma, PTSD symptoms, and suicide risk severity.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of PTSD symptoms and suicide risk. They also found that the higher the levels of PTSD symptoms the higher the levels of suicide risk. A moderation analysis indicated that the effect of PTSD symptoms on suicide risk severity was lowered by mindfulness, particularly the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness and non-judging of inner experience.

 

It should be noted that these findings are correlations and thus there cannot be definitive conclusions about causation. Nevertheless, the results suggest that mindfulness is associated with lower Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and lower risk of suicide among firefighters. In addition, being able to act with awareness and to experience feelings without judgement may be particularly strongly associated with a lower association between the symptoms of PTSD and the risk of suicide. These results suggest that a randomized clinical trial of the ability of mindfulness training to lower PTSD symptoms and suicide risk is warranted.

 

First responders have a tough job. They are not only exposed to immediate risks to their safety but also long-term risks associated with the trauma experienced in the course of their jobs. Mindfulness may be very helpful for firefighters. It may have the ability to help them withstand the long-term consequences of the trauma they experience. Perhaps mindfulness may make a tough, but important, job less costly for the firefighters mental health.

 

“Firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than to die on the job. We heavily invest in protective equipment to keep them physically safe – special masks, boots, jackets, pants. So why don’t we spend any money to protect their minds?” – Rich Landward

 

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

 

Stanley, I. H., Boffa, J. W., Tran, J. K., Schmidt, N. B., Joiner, T. E., & Vujanovic, A. A. (2019). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and mindfulness facets in relation to suicide risk among firefighters. Journal of clinical psychology, 75(4), 696–709. doi:10.1002/jclp.22748

 

Abstract

Objective:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are associated with increased suicide risk among firefighters. Few studies have examined modifiable factors, such as mindfulness facets, that might attenuate this association. This study examined the interactive effects of PTSD symptoms and mindfulness facets in relation to suicide risk among firefighters.

Method:

Overall, 831 career firefighters were assessed for PTSD symptoms, mindfulness facets, and suicide risk via the PTSD Checklist for DSM‐5, Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, and Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire—Revised, respectively.

Results:

Greater PTSD symptoms were associated with more severe suicide risk; however, higher levels of two specific mindfulness facets, acting with awareness and nonjudging of inner experience, attenuated this association. By contrast, higher levels of the observing facet of mindfulness potentiated the association between PTSD symptoms and suicide risk.

Conclusions:

Suicide prevention initiatives among firefighters, particularly those experiencing trauma‐related sequelae, might benefit from the inclusion of mindfulness‐based practices alongside frontline empirically‐supported approaches.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6434694/

 

Students and Military who are High in All Facets of Mindfulness Have Better Psychological Health

Students and Military who are High in All Facets of Mindfulness Have Better Psychological Health

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The research is strong for mindfulness’ positive impact in certain areas of mental health, including stress reduction, emotion and attention regulation, reduced rumination, for reducing mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and preventing depressive relapse.“ – Kelle Walsh

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. As a result, mindfulness training has been called the third wave of therapies.

 

One of the premiere measurement tools for mindfulness is the Five Factors of Mindfulness Questionnaire. It measures overall mindfulness and also five facets; observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgement, and non-reactivity. People differ and an individual can be high or low on any of these facets and any combination of facets. It is not known what pattern of mindfulness facets are most predictive of good mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Psychological Health Outcomes: A Latent Profile Analysis among Military Personnel and College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800780/ ), Bravo and colleagues recruited active and retired military personnel and college students. They were measured online for mindfulness, depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms.

 

They found that overall, the greater the levels of mindfulness, the better the mental health of the participants including lower depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms. The military personnel were higher on all measures except rumination than the college students.

 

For the college students latent profile analysis revealed 4 mindfulness profiles ““high mindfulness” group (i.e., moderately high on all facets of mindfulness), a “low mindfulness” group (i.e., relatively low-to-average on all facets of mindfulness), a “judgmentally observing” group (i.e., high on observing facet, low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness) and a “non-judgmentally aware” group (i.e., low on observing, high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness).” For the military personnel latent profile analysis revealed 3 mindfulness profiles “high mindfulness” group (i.e., moderately high on all facets of mindfulness), a “low mindfulness/ judgmentally observing” group (i.e., relatively low-to-average on describing, and non-reacting facets of mindfulness and  high on observing facet, low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness) and a “non-judgmentally aware” group (i.e., low on observing, high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness).

 

For both the military personnel and the students, the participants with the “high mindfulness” profile had significantly better mental health than those with the other profiles including lower depression, anxiety, rumination, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse symptoms. It is important to note that the results were similar in very different participant populations, suggesting that the results are generalizable.

 

The results further suggest that with mindfulness there are very different types of people, expressing mindfulness in different ways and this makes a difference in the relationship of mindfulness to mental health. The results suggest that overall being mindful is associated with good mental health. They further suggest that being generally high on all facets of mindfulness is an even better predictor of good mental health. It may make sense in future research to pay more attention to these different mindfulness profile groups in investigating mindfulness relationships with mental and physical well-being.

 

It is clear that mindfulness is associated with better mental health.

 

“We’ve seen this in the clinical domain for many years. People, in concert with their physicians… actually going off their medications for pain, for anxiety, for depression, as they begin to learn the self-regulatory elements of mindfulness. They discover that the things that used to be symptomatically problematic for them are no longer arising at the same level.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

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

 

Bravo, A. J., Pearson, M. R., & Kelley, M. L. (2017). Mindfulness and Psychological Health Outcomes: A Latent Profile Analysis among Military Personnel and College Students. Mindfulness, 9(1), 258-270.

 

Abstract

Previous research on trait mindfulness facets using person-centered analyses (e.g., latent profile analysis [LPA]) has identified four distinct mindfulness profiles among college students: a high mindfulness group (high on all facets of the Five-Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire [FFMQ]), a judgmentally observing group (highest on observing, but low on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness), a non-judgmentally aware group (high on non-judging of inner experience and acting with awareness, but very low on observing), and a low mindfulness group (low on all facets of the FFMQ). In the present study, we used LPA to identify distinct mindfulness profiles in a community based sample of U.S. military personnel (majority veterans; n = 407) and non-military college students (n = 310) and compare these profiles on symptoms of psychological health outcomes (e.g., suicidality, PTSD, anxiety, rumination) and percentage of participants exceeding clinically significant cut-offs for depressive symptoms, substance use, and alcohol use. In the subsample of college students, we replicated previous research and found four distinct mindfulness profiles; however, in the military subsample we found three distinct mindfulness profiles (a combined low mindfulness/judgmentally observing class). In both subsamples, we found that the most adaptive profile was the “high mindfulness” profile (i.e., demonstrated the lowest scores on all psychological symptoms and the lowest probability of exceeding clinical cut-offs). Based on these findings, we purport that the comprehensive examination of an individual’s mindfulness profile could help clinicians tailor interventions/treatments that capitalize on individual’s specific strengths and work to address their specific deficits.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800780/

 

Improve PTSD Symptoms Related to Childhood Sexual Abuse with Mindfulness

Improve PTSD Symptoms Related to Childhood Sexual Abuse with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

DBT-PTSD significantly reduced the women’s PTSD symptoms, including depression and anxiety. In addition, the women’s PTSD symptoms were still improving six weeks after they completed the treatment, suggesting that they may have learned skills during the study that helped them continue to recover from PTSD after the treatment ended.” – Matthew Tull

 

Childhood sexual abuse is a horrific crime. The trauma created in the victim changes them forever. It changes the trusting innocence of childhood to a confused, guilt ridden, frightening, and traumatized existence. It not only produces short-term trauma which includes both psychological and physical injury, it has long-term consequences. It damages the victim’s self-esteem and creates difficulties entering into intimate relationship in adulthood. It can create post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) complete with painful flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Victims often experience depression and sometimes become suicidal. It is a heinous crime that haunts the victims for the rest of their lives.

 

Unfortunately, childhood sexual abuse is shockingly common. It is estimated that 20% of girls and 10% of boys have experienced childhood sexual abuse and half of these were forcefully assaulted. Children between the ages of 7 and 13 are the most vulnerable but abuse is also prevalent in adolescence with 16% of children between 14 to 17 having been sexually victimized. Compounding the problem disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. As such, they often delay disclosure until adulthood. This makes it unlikely that they’ll seek help and instead suffer in silence.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to be effective in treating victims of trauma and PTSD.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses on changing the thoughts and emotions that precede problem behaviors, as well as by solving the problems faced by individuals that contribute to problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In DBT five core skills are practiced; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. So, it would make sense to explore the effectiveness of DBT for the treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

 

In today’s Research News article “Dialectical behaviour therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse: a pilot study in an outpatient treatment setting.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5774406/ ), Steil and colleagues recruited adult healthy women who had experienced childhood sexual abuse and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They treated them with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) in a group for 90 minutes, once a week for 24 weeks. They were measured before and after treatment and 6 weeks later for frequency and intensity of PTSD symptoms, personality disorders, borderline symptoms, depression, and dissociative symptoms.

 

They found that the average duration of the PTSD symptoms prior to treatment was 14.5 years. 81% of the patients completed treatment. Following treatment, the women had significant reductions in PTSD symptoms including fewer intrusions, less avoidances, and hyperarousal episodes with large effect sizes. Treatment also produced large significant reductions in borderline symptoms, depression, and dissociative symptoms. These effects were still present and significant at the 6-week follow-up measurement.

 

The results suggest that Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a safe, lasting, and effective treatment for PTSD symptoms resulting from childhood sexual abuse. But this was a pilot study without a control group. It relied upon before and after treatment comparisons. As such, there are many potential confounding factors. But the results are so positive and beneficial that a large randomized controlled clinical trial is warranted.

 

So, improve PTSD symptoms related to childhood sexual abuse with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective stress reduction practices in general, but there may be other ways it works for people with PTSD as well. Recent research suggests that mindfulness may help to mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress.” – Matthew Tull

 

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

 

Regina Steil, Clara Dittmann, Meike Müller-Engelmann, Anne Dyer, Anne-Marie Maasch, Kathlen Priebe. Dialectical behaviour therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse: a pilot study in an outpatient treatment setting. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018; 9(1): 1423832. Published online 2018 Jan 19. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1423832

 

ABSTRACT

Background: Dialectical behaviour therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (DBT-PTSD), which is tailored to treat adults with PTSD and co-occurring emotion regulation difficulties, has already demonstrated its efficacy, acceptance and safety in an inpatient treatment setting. It combines elements of DBT with trauma-focused cognitive behavioural interventions.

Objective: To investigate the feasibility, acceptance and safety of DBT-PTSD in an outpatient treatment setting by therapists who were novice to the treatment, we treated 21 female patients suffering from PTSD following childhood sexual abuse (CSA) plus difficulties in emotion regulation in an uncontrolled clinical trial.

Method: The Clinician Administered PTSD Symptom Scale (CAPS), the Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS), the Borderline Section of the International Personality Disorder Examination (IPDE) and the Borderline Symptom List (BSL-23) were used as primary outcomes. For secondary outcomes, depression and dissociation were assessed. Assessments were administered at pretreatment, post-treatment and six-week follow-up.

Results: Improvement was significant for PTSD as well as for borderline personality symptomatology, with large pretreatment to follow-up effect sizes for completers based on the CAPS (Cohens d = 1.30), DTS (d = 1.50), IPDE (d = 1.60) and BSL-23 (d = 1.20).

Conclusion: The outcome suggests that outpatient DBT-PTSD can safely be used to reduce PTSD symptoms and comorbid psychopathology in adults who have experienced CSA.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5774406/

 

Mindfulness Improves the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Altering Gene Expression

Mindfulness Improves the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Altering Gene Expression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective stress reduction practices in general, but there may be other ways it works for people with PTSD as well. Recent research suggests that mindfulness may help to mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress.” – Matthew Tull

 

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.

 

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. These alterations probably involve changes in the chemistry of the brain particularly with systems associated with stress and depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Methylation of FKBP5 and SLC6A4 in Relation to Treatment Response to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153325/ ), Bishop and colleagues examine the activation of genes associated with stress and depression in patients with PTSD who responded and did not respond to treatment with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), They examined patients from a previous study of the effectiveness of MBSR for the treatment of PTSD who showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms and those that did not. The MBSR treatment consisted of body scan, meditation, and yoga practices and group discussion and occurred in 9 weekly, 2.5 hour sessions. with homework. Blood samples were drawn before and after treatment. They measured the degree of methylation of genes in the he promoter region of SLC6A4 previously associated with depression risk and symptoms and genes in the FKBP5 Intron 7 region identified as a functional regulator of glucocorticoid signaling.

 

They found that after Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment there was a significant reduction in methylation of genes in the FKBP5 Intron 7 region in responders but an increase in non-responders. These genes are associated with stress related responding. Methylation tends to suppress gene expression, So, decreased methylation indicates an increased level of activity in stress related hormonal pathways.

 

These findings are interesting but not surprising as MBSR was developed specifically to improve stress responses. It is interesting that only patients who responded to treatment had this change to the genes underlying stress responding. So, it appears that MBSR is effective for PTSD symptoms but only if it changes stress related gene expression. It will be interesting to examine in the future the factors that result in non-responders being resistant to treatment with MBSR.

 

So, improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by altering gene expression with mindfulness.

 

Many people cope with trauma by distancing themselves from the sensations in their bodies and minds (the most extreme example of this is dissociation). Therefore, bringing one’s attention deliberately back to the body can unzip trauma symptoms they may not be prepared to address. However, mindfulness meditation can be helpful to those with PTSD and a history of trauma when practiced under the guidance of a mental healthcare provider and modified to be better suited for trauma survivors.” – Julia Ozog

 

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

Bishop, J. R., Lee, A. M., Mills, L. J., Thuras, P. D., Eum, S., Clancy, D., Erbes, C. R., Polusny, M. A., Lamberty, G. J., … Lim, K. O. (2018). Methylation of FKBP5 and SLC6A4 in Relation to Treatment Response to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 418. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00418

 

Abstract

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for veterans with PTSD. Extensive work has identified epigenetic factors related to PTSD disease risk and pathophysiology, but how these factors influence treatment response is unclear. Serotonin signaling and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning may be perturbed in PTSD and are molecular pathways targeted by PTSD treatments. To identify potential biomarkers for treatment response, we utilized genomic DNA isolated from peripheral blood samples from veterans with PTSD who were responders (n = 11) or non-responders (n = 11) to MBSR as part of a clinical trial. We assessed methylation levels at CpG sites in regions of the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) previously associated with expression and depression outcomes, as well as the Intron 7 region of the FK506 binding protein 5 (FKBP5) containing known glucocorticoid response elements suggested to regulate this gene. Selected subjects were matched across MBSR responder status by baseline symptoms, age, sex, current smoking status, and current antidepressant use. Percent methylation was compared between responders and non-responders at baseline (pre-MBSR treatment). Additionally, percent change in methylation from baseline to post-treatment was compared between responders and non-responders. There was a significant time x responder group interaction for methylation in FKBP5 intron 7 bin 2 [F(1, 19) = 7.492, p = 0.013] whereby responders had a decrease in methylation and non-responders had an increase in methylation from before to after treatment in this region. Analyses of the three CpG sites within bin 2 revealed a significant time x responder group interaction for CpG_35558513 [F(1, 19) = 5.551, p = 0.029] which resides in a known glucocorticoid response element (GRE). Decreases in FKBP5 methylation after treatment in responders as compared to increases in non-responders suggest that effective meditation intervention may be associated with stress-related pathways at the molecular level. These preliminary findings suggest that DNA methylation signatures within FKBP5 are potential indicators of response to meditation treatment in PTSD and require validation in larger cohorts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153325/

 

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

 

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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

 

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

 

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/