Mpls. VA: Meditation aids some vets struggling with PTSD

Researchers at the Minneapolis VA hospital found meditation techniques can help veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Among 116 veterans with PTSD recruited for the study at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, those who used "mindfulness-based stress reduction" showed greater improvement in the self-reported severity of their PTSD symptoms than those in traditional group therapy, according to the abstract published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association.

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects more than one in five veterans returning from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according the study. It's most closely associated with veterans who've been through combat and the difficulty of coping with life afterward. Symptoms can include reliving battle experiences, being always on the lookout for danger or an inability to sleep or concentrate.

"Mindfulness-based stress reduction" included breathing and stretching techniques intended to help veterans "attend to the present moment in a nonjudgmental, accepting manner," the study said.

While the improvements were modest, researchers said the study helped build on a growing body of research on using meditation-based stress reduction for improving PTSD symptoms and improving veterans' quality of life.

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