Researchers suggest that mindfulness training may help ease symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The researchers suggest mindfulness training can help manage disturbing memories and thoughts.
The goal of mindfulness in to promote in-the-moment attention and awareness. The study included 23 U.S. veterans who received some form of group therapy. The study lasted for four months and consisted of weekly therapy sessions. By the end of the four-month period, many veterans saw improvements in their PTSD.
Some veterans received regular therapy and others received mindfulness training. Only those veterans that received mindfulness training manifested changes in the brain, as seen on a functional MRI scan. Prior to the therapy sessions, when the veterans were resting, they had greater activity in brain regions involved in threat response.
After the mindfulness training, veterans established stronger connections between two areas of the brain – one that involves wandering thoughts and another that shifts attention.
Coleader Anthony King said, “The brain findings suggest that mindfulness training may have helped the veterans develop more capacity to shift their attention and get themselves out of being ‘stuck’ in painful cycles of thoughts. We’re hopeful that this brain signature shows the potential of mindfulness to be helpful for managing PTSD for people who might initially decline therapy involving trauma processing. We hope it may provide emotional regulation skills to help bring them to a place where they feel better able to process their traumas.”
The findings were published in Depression and Anxiety.