Meditation, Mindfulness and Mind training are slowly gaining acceptance in handling people with PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
The statistics are frightening. Approximately 7.7 million American adults aged 18 and older, or about 3.5 per cent of people in this age group in a given year, have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can strike one at any age, even though the average age of its onset has been established at 23.
So, it is highly possible that either you or some of your loved ones suffer from PTSD. PTSD makes the victim remember the unfortunate event constantly, and in turn, spoils his present too. A PTSD victim remains angry, depressed or guilty most of the times. PTSD could even lead to loss of employment, substance or alcohol abuse or even social isolation.
Regular Meditation helps…
Tom Minor, a neuro scientist at the University of California, found out that meditation increases levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, a hormone that repairs cellular damage caused by stress. Meanwhile, it decreases levels of stress related chemicals cortisol and neuropeptide Y, which can damage tissues.
With the help of MRI scans, Martin Paulus, another neuroscientist at the University of California, found that meditation boosts activity in the insula. This part of the brain plays an important role in the perception of bodily sensation — whether a given signal is interpreted as painful or joyful. An active insula may improve the ability to handle trauma by making the body’s physical and emotional signals more noticeable. If we are aware of the emotional signals within us, we will have more control over it and might even adjust to the bad emotions.
Stressful experiences tend to degrade ‘working memory’ or capacity to retain new information. But this is not the case with people who practice meditation regularly. Amishi Jha, a neuro scientist at the University of Miami, who studied the effect of meditation on US marines in Iraq, found the soldiers who practiced meditation, reported improved working memory.
Following a traumatic experience, everyone experiences a shock or even nightmares, which fade out in due course. But in the case of PTSD, the person remains in psychological shock for a long time. Even though the role of medication cannot be ruled out in the treatment of PTSD, meditation can surely lend a helping hand in the healing process.
Roy Clymer, a Vietnam combat veteran and psychologist who worked with wounded Iraq and Afghan war soldiers for 13 years as director of specialized care at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington. “As you develop skill at meditation, you gain the art of acknowledging an emotion when it comes, accepting it — but not doing what we usually do, which is immediately reacting to it.”