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Effective meditation in the treatment of post-traumatic stress

Meditation can be as effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as current therapies, says a study of US soldiers being treated for PTSD published in Lancet Psychiatry Friday.

Effective meditation in the treatment of post-traumatic stress

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after a traumatic event in the context of death, threats of death, serious injury or sexual assault.

It is characterized in particular by repeated and invasive memories of the event, a nightmare, avoiding any element (place, situation) resembling trauma, irritability or depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often found among victims and soldiers (14% of American soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are victims).

Among current therapies, exposure therapy is often used. It involves bringing a person with PTSD to gradual exposure to situations, places, images, sensations, noises, smells and memories associated with a traumatic event, to "accustom" the body to stop responding to an intense way of trauma-like elements, thus limiting avoidance .

But this technique is painful for PTSD victims and 30-45% of patients abandon treatment, says the study.

Researchers from three American universities tested meditation practice, investigating 203 former American soldiers with PTSD.

Soldiers, men and women, were divided into three groups:

  • one practiced meditation;
  • Second exposure therapy;
  • The third had a theoretical course of post-traumatic stress.

60% of former soldiers who practiced 20 minutes of meditation every day significantly improved symptoms and more often completed the study than the group exposed to exposure therapy.

Meditation consists in focusing the mind on the object or idea to achieve a state of mindfulness, peace and quiet.

"Meditation can be practiced alone, almost anywhere and at any time, without the need for specialized equipment or personalized support", said AFP Sanford Nidich, lead author of the study.

"In the face of a growing problem related to post-traumatic stress in the United States, Great Britain and other parts of the world, alternative treatments, such as meditation, must be part of options implemented by health authorities."He says.

Created on November 18, 2018


Meditation without injuries and exposure therapy in post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial – Sanford Nidich et al. – The Lancet Pyschiata 15 November 2018 (available online)

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