Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects roughly 20% of soldiers who return from war, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. A silent killer, this disorder can bring forth an array of intrusive memories, anxiety attacks, personality changes and general uneasiness – constantly causing sufferers to feel on edge.
Traditional treatments for PTSD include antidepressants and psychotherapy, however now some practitioners are calling for more alternative therapies to aid recovery in conjunction with these treatments.
A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, which involved the assessment of 11 war veterans diagnosed with PTSD, has shown yoga to bring them greater mental balance.
Focusing on the benefits of Sudarshan Kriya yoga, the participants took a 7-day relaxation program, receiving psychological assessment before and after treatment, and were then compared to those who did those who did not take part in the program.
The group who took part in the yoga exercises displayed less intense symptoms in comparison to those who did not. They showed lower levels of anxiety and reacted better to triggering stimuli such as loud bursts of noise.
Yoga has previously been proven to decrease the anxiety levels of many other members of the public, such as students and the clinically-depressed.
“The beneficial effects are due to the increased ability to focus on breathing that, firstly, focuses a person on a present moment and breaks rumination on negative traumatic thoughts, and secondly, increases ability of ‘intraception’ – observing and understand internal states and the ability to control them, or understanding them as temporal and passing,” told lecturer in psychology at the University of London, Angnieszka Golec de Zavala.
Other relaxation treatments being tried on veterans include hiking, horseback riding and acupuncture.