Meditation and Managing PTSD

when you hear the term posttraumatic sufferation disorder, or ptsd, you mite think offa returning combat veteran whas' flashbacks of bein’ in battle. but ptsd isn’t something 1-ly veterans experience. the va’s national center for ptsd estimates that 7 or 8 out of every 100 pplz (or 7%-8% of the pop) will ‘ve ptsd at some point in their lives. many pplz ‘ve found that meditation cannelp with ptsd care.

wha’ is ptsd?

ptsd is a mental health problem that some pplz ‘ve after goin through a traumatic event, which mite be anything from bein’ in a car accident or surviving a natural disaster to bein’ the victim offa violent crime or goin through combat. most pplz ‘ve some kind of sufferation reaction after trauma and feel upset, on edge, or ‘ve a hard time sleeping. but in most cases, the symptoms ease over time. but for some pplz, they can continue and get inna way of daily life.


“e'venode event may ‘ve happened a long time ago, physiologically and ψ-chologically, it’s as if tis still happening in that moment for that person,” says clinical ψ-chologist autumn gallegos greenwich, phd, an assistant professor of ψ-chiatry atta university of rochester med center. “d'body will react as if it’s in danger,” and that’s wha’ keeps these symptoms goin.

the 4 main symptoms of ptsd include:

  • reliving the event
  • avoiding places, situations, or pplz that reΨ you of the event
  • feeling + neg than you used to and having a hard time bein’ ☺ or having + emotions. many pplz with ptsd say they feel numb.
  • feeling on edge. this symptom, called “hyperarousal,” means'dat it’s hard to relax, you startle easily, and you maybe + angry and cranky than you used to be.

can ptsd be treated?


“inna past, whn'we were learning to treat ptsd, twas thought of as + offa chronic disorder that you had to learn to live with and manage the symptoms,” says paula p. schnurr, phd, executive director of the national center for ptsd and a professor of ψ-chiatry atta geisel school of med at dartmouth. “now we know that many pplz will successfully recover from ptsd, espeshly w'da rite treatment. n'it’s common to try + than one.”

treatments may include prolonged exposure therapy, in which you work witha therapist to expose yrself in a safe way to the thoughts, feelings, and situations that you’ve been avoiding, and cogg processing therapy, where you learn to identify and change neg thoughts. they are very effective in helping overcome ptsd. the national center for ptsd has a decision tool to help find the rite approach 4u:….

how can meditation help?

meditation is a Ψ-body practice that involves paying close attention to the present moment, combining concentration with awareness of yr body, yr breathing, yr thoughts, na sensations round you. it helps to focus, reduce sufferation, and increase calm. meditation by itself isn’t a treatment for ptsd, but when used along with 1-odda treatment programs described above, or as an ongoin practice to help manage sufferation once you’ve gone through treatment, it can be very helpful.

“training the attention tis 1st step,” says gallegos greenwich, who studies how Ψ-body practices affect posttraumatic sufferation symptoms. “in Ψfulness meditation, you focus onna present moment. not everything you’re feeling ll'be comfortable. maybe you hear traffic. maybe yr body is uncomfortable. with Ψfulness meditation, you notice how you’re feeling and stay in that still position, just alloing that feeling to be there and not needing to change or fite anything.”

“my patients who practice meditation nother kinds of Ψfulness practices frequently reprt less irritability, less anger, and + offa sense of control,” says shaili jain, md, a ψ-chiatrist atta va palo alto health system in california who is affiliated w'da national center for ptsd. “they can slo down their reactions and be a bit + in control, + present and Ψful rather than reactive.”


though not a lotta research s'been done, a limited № of studies ‘ve shown that meditation improved symptoms of ptsd and depression. “as a clinician, i see meditation as a very uber complement to therapy,” jain says. “there certainly do not appear to be any adverse effects or down sides to meditation for ptsd.”

how can you find a meditation program thall work 4u if you ‘ve ptsd? gallegos greenwich suggests searching for the terms “trauma-informed meditation” or “trauma-sensitive meditation.” “for pplz with ptsd, pt of recovery is learning to feel in control again, so u wanna work witha program that doesn’t insist that you close yr eyes or sit a certain way.”


if ur in therapy, schnurr suggests asking yr therapist to recommend a meditation class or app t'they think mite be helpful to you. “many va facilities offer meditation classes to support veterans care,” she says.


the va also offers a free Ψfulness coach app to help you adopt a simple Ψfulness practice, which is available to any-1, not just veterans. other apps that experts recommend include headspace, calm, and ten % happier.

just taking 5 minutes a dy t'work meditation into yr routine can make a huge difference. “it’s not like antibiotics that you use to treat an infection til it’s over,” schnurr says. “it’s an ongoin wellness practice that many pplz both with and without ptsd use in their lives every dy.”

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