Some of the most damaging consequences of seeing combat can happen in the mind. Of the 2.3m American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, up to 20% go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point. In a report published by the US Department of Veterans Affairs at least 22 American veterans take their lives every day.
The effects of PTSD can include intrusive memories, heightened anxiety and personality changes. Individuals can also experience hyper-arousal, where they are easily startled, feel “jumpy” and constantly on guard. Standard current treatment for PTSD generally involves prescriptions for antidepressants and psychotherapy, with mixed results.
In a new study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers say that yoga can be used to bring better mental balance.
Yoga has previously been shown as valuable in reducing the stress of university students, and depression, anxiety, alcoholism and PTSD in tsunami survivors, as well as helping cancer patients. The charity Yoga for America runs programmes for serving soldiers and war veterans.
An interesting, albeit small, study was done on sudarshan kriya yoga for veterans with PTSD. It used twenty-one veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Eleven were assigned a one-week intensive course of yoga, & the other ten were the control group. The yoga group showed reduced symptoms of PTSD, including lowered anxiety & hyper-arousal, as well as less intense intrusive memories.
If it works on intrusive thoughts, I will definitely be looking into that.