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article imageYoga could help veterans with PTSD

By Sravanth Verma     Sep 16, 2014 in Health
New research from the University of W-Madison has looked at how yoga can help war veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
The study was performed with 21 male veterans from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, who had already been diagnosed with PTSD. Eleven of them were part of a group that was given a week's worth of three-hour sessions of yoga and meditation, besides group discussions. Ten of the men were not given any such sessions.
The researchers looked at the groups' PTSD symptoms at the the end of the session, then a week later, a month later and a year later. They found that the group that had received yoga training reported much lower and less intense PTSD symptoms, such as lower anxiety and lower respiration rates. They also showed improved performance in tests designed to assess hyper-arousal and emotion regulation. They performed better in eye-blink and breathing frequency tests in response to noise burst stimuli. The researchers also noted that the men reported experiencing fewer intrusive memories.
Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a qualified yoga teacher said, “The authors describe their results as ‘promising’ and I think this is what they are. More studies are needed and such studies would be highly valuable regarding low costs of this form of treatment and the initial evidence suggesting its effectiveness."
About 2.3 million veterans have returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a fifth of them suffer from PTSD. The US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that on average, 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.
Studies have looked at the benefits of practicing yoga and its ability to relax the body and mind and eliminate stress. But this study is the first randomized, long-term study to look at yoga's effect on PTSD.
Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the university and one of the paper's authors feels that further research should focus on a wider demographic. If results are promising, then this could add another tool in the physician's anti-PTSD toolbox.
The study was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
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