Saturday February 16, 2019

Meditation Helps Veterans Well With PTSD: Study

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness.

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Veterans, PTSD, Afghan. Taliban, robots
A U.S soldier patrols at night in Khost province, Afghanistan, seen through night vision equipment. About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the Veterans Affairs health system. VOA

Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense.

One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn’t work for everyone and many can’t handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions.

Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said.

Exposure therapy unpopular

The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories.

PTSD
There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States.

Many vets won’t try exposure therapy or drop out because it’s too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study’s senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego.

Evidence for meditation “allows us to put more options on the table” with confidence they work, Rutledge said.

The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Follow-up study needed

About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation’s benefits last.

Stress, meditation, PTSD
Meditation can boost emotional intelligence, cut stress at workplace. Pixabay

“There’s no follow-up in this study,” Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist’s skills.

Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise.

All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes.

After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy.

The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they’d received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.

 

CyclingStress, meditation, PTSD
Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health. Pixabay

 

PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD.

Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it’s not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma.

More interest, styles

There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier.

There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind.

TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training.

Also Read: 2 War-Stricken Towns in Somalia Finally Receive Health Care: UN

Rutledge, who was the principal researcher, said he does not practice meditation himself.

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness, Rutledge said.

“It’s probably less threatening,” he said. “It may be easier to talk to veterans about participating in something like meditation.” (VOA)

Next Story

People Around You Influence Your Body Image

Body dissatisfaction is ubiquitous and can take a huge toll on our mood, self-esteem, relationships and even the activities we pursue. 

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People Around You Influence Your Body Image . Pixabay

Are you surrounded by people who are not that body conscious? Then there is good news for you as a new study suggests spending time with people who are not preoccupied with their bodies can improve your own eating habits and body image.

In this study, examining how social interactions influence body image, researchers found that in addition to the previous findings that being around people preoccupied with their body image was detrimental, spending time with people who were non-body focused had a positive impact.

Non-body focused people are those who are not preoccupied with their body weight or shape or appearance.

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Youth who resembled one another were more likely to remain friends from one year to the next. Pixabay

“Our research suggests that social context has a meaningful impact on how we feel about our bodies in general and on a given day. Specifically, when others around us are not focused on their body it can be helpful to our own body image,” said Kathryn Miller, postdoctoral student at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

For the study, the team involved nearly 100 female undergraduate students aged 17 to 25.

They measured the participants’ frequency of daily interactions with body focused and non-body focused people, their degree of body appreciation (how much one values their body regardless of its size or shape), and body satisfaction, and whether they ate intuitively in alignment with their hunger and cravings rather than fixating on their dietary and weight goals.

The findings, published in the journal Body Image, showed that body dissatisfaction is ubiquitous and can take a huge toll on our mood, self-esteem, relationships and even the activities we pursue.

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If more women try to focus less on their weight or shape, there may be a ripple effect shifting societal norms for women’s body image in a positive direction . Pixabay

“It’s important to realise that the people we spend time with actually influence our body image. If we are able to spend more time with people who are not preoccupied with their bodies, we can actually feel much better about our own bodies,” said Allison Kelly, Professor at the varsity.

Also Read: Here are Some Food Tips That Can Change Your Hair Health

In addition, they also found that spending more time with non-body focused individuals may be advantageous in protecting against disordered eating and promoting more intuitive eating.

“If more women try to focus less on their weight or shape, there may be a ripple effect shifting societal norms for women’s body image in a positive direction. It’s also important for women to know that they have an opportunity to positively impact those around them through how they relate to their own bodies,” Miller suggested. (IANS)