Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is known as one of the most common mental health problems, which is estimated to affect over 6 to 8 percent of the general population. This includes about 10 to 30 percent veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime.
Typically, PTSD is characterized by a set of responses, including intrusive recollections such as flashbacks, experienced by individuals who were exposed to a life-threatening event like sexual assault, war situation or a natural disaster, among others.
Considering that such a high percentage of people are affected by this mental disorder, researchers are striving to find better treatment interventions to improve the prognosis of PTSD. Currently, both psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions are recommended to treat the individuals struggling with a traumatic past. Adding to the progresses in the field is a new study that has come up with potential benefits of “loving kindness meditation” to relieve PTSD symptoms. According to the new study by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a 12-week course of loving kindness meditation can be as effective as one of VA’s most recommended treatments for PTSD, which is cognitive processing therapy (CPT).
What is Loving Kindness Meditation?
Loving kindness meditation is a therapeutic approach in which the patient battling PTSD silently repeats phrases that evoke elicit feelings of kindness for oneself and others. The individuals seeking treatment are trained to use mindfulness techniques to avert negative thoughts and disengage themselves from self-criticism.
A gastroenterologist with VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the lead researcher, Dr. David Kearney drew inspiration from Buddhist teachers to use loving kindness meditation (a concept from the Buddhist tradition) to help veterans troubled by PTSD.
PTSD, as quoted by Kearney, is a set of unpleasant experiences like stressful emotions, memories and images, which may appear due to the belief that those experiences or traumatic events could have been avoided by acting differently at the time of that dreadful encounter.
“I thought loving kindness practice might be able to help people with PTSD relearn self-compassion in the face of negative emotions like guilt and self-blame,” he said.
CPT and Loving Kindness Meditation Equally Effective
The findings of the study were based on an experiment in which patients with PTSD were segregated into two groups – a CPT group and a loving kindness meditation group.
While the CPT group focused on helping individuals evaluate the distressing thoughts and changing their perception toward themselves and the world, the loving kindness meditation group coached veterans on how to use this technique. The comparative analysis of the two techniques to help people with PTSD showed that both programs were equally effective in improving the distressing symptoms.
Talking in particular about the efficacy of loving kindness meditation among veterans with PTSD, the researchers found that it might bring significant reductions in PTSD symptoms. Moreover, loving kindness meditation was associated with better change in depressive symptoms over a period compared to cognitive processing therapy.
The study participants were made to practice loving kindness meditation in class for 30 to 35 minutes. This practiced was followed by a discussion. The participants were then asked to practice the technique at home also. Kearney said that the team is hopeful that this technique would be replicated independently to help PTSD patients. This would enable widespread use of the technique as a regular and preferred treatment option.
Watch Out for PTSD Symptoms
PTSD is a debilitating mental health problem that severely compromises one’s quality of life. However, the good thing is that the symptoms of PTSD can be managed through treatment and behavioral therapy.
Medical Concierge can help people battling PTSD improve their quality of life through evidence-based therapeutic approaches. We offer customized PTSD treatment plans curated keeping in mind the patient’s needs and requirements. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline (877) 636-0042 to know more about post traumatic stress disorder treatment centers.