Feb 25, 2013
Military turns to meditation for PTSD
Afghan vets benefit from tranquility
David Kohn | Special to the Washington Post
Over the past nine years, more than 2 million American soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As many as several hundred thousand may now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, experts say. They struggle with anxiety, anger, depression, flashbacks and nightmares. The ailment can take years to emerge, and many more cases are likely to appear.
PTSD is usually treated with drugs, behavioral therapy and other approaches. But for many, these methods don’t work. Now, researchers are looking at a new method that might limit future cases of PTSD and ease symptoms for those who have it: meditation.
With its emphasis on cultivating tranquility, meditation might seem an odd fit for the military. But the researchers say that a particular type, known as mindfulness, may prove to be an important therapeutic tool to help reduce stress and increase focus.
Practitioners of mindfulness meditation focus on a single thing happening in the moment, such as breathing, for a set period of time, generally at least 15 or 20 minutes. Studies have found that for regular practitioners, mindfulness has physical and emotional benefits.