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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: Treating Veterans For PTSD

Statue, Three Servicemen, Vietnam Veterans Mem...
Statue, Three Servicemen, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Over the past few years we have often published posts regarding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in particular we have discussed the treatment of returning war veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD. We understand from news reports that the number of veterans with PTSD is now well above 200,000, with more returning from combat every day. Many scientists continue to conduct research in order to find more effective ways to assist veterans suffering from PTSD and hopefully results that can help veterans will be shared with the general public.

New study examines mindfulness-based cognitive therapy  


This week the results of a new study were published online in Depression and Anxiety, The Official Journal of the ADAA. The abstract for the study can be found here: A Pilot Study of Group Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for Combat Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to PsychCentral this was a collaborative study conducted by the University of Michigan health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study's parameters...

  • Patients seeking treatment for chronic PTSD were enrolled in 8 week MBCT groups (four groups numbering 20 patients)
  • Three other groups numbering 17 patients were enrolled in treatment-as-usual therapy
  • Pre and posttherapy psychological assessments with clinicians were performed with all patients.
  • Patients in the mindfulness treatment group completed in-class exercises, focusing on tension, pain, and physical sensations. These patients were also instructed to perform these exercises at home. 


The study's results...


Again according to PsychCentral: "After eight weeks of treatment, 73 percent of patients in the mindfulness group displayed meaningful improvement compared to 33 percent in the treatment-as-usual groups." 

Going forward...


The study's lead author, Anthony P. King, Ph.D. is a research assistant professor in the University of Michigan's Department of Psychiatry.  In a press release he sums up the study's efficacy nicely:

“Further studies will help us understand whether mindfulness training is more aptly considered an adjunct option to gold-standard trauma-focused treatments such as prolonged exposure or EMDR, or whether it can function as an intervention in its own right for treating avoidance and other symptoms,” he says.“Either way, mindfulness-based therapies provide a strategy that encourages active engagement for participants, are easy to learn and appear to have significant benefits for veterans with PTSD.”

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