Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can impact someone’s life after a traumatic event, such as a life-threatening event, sexual assault, abuse or an accident. PTSD affect people in different ways. Some people who suffer from PTSD will experience flashbacks or nightmares about the traumatic event, depression, anger or feelings of detachment from other people.
In order to help people who suffer from PTSD, psychiatrists usually recommend a combination of therapy (group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, stress inoculation therapy etc) and other treatments, such as alternative therapy and complimentary therapy. Some patients also require medication, but in this article we will only talk about how mindfulness meditation is helping people with PTSD.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is recommended in PTSD as a complimentary treatment and it involves focusing on various techniques that allow patients to be more aware of the present and not the past. People who suffer from PTSD find it hard to leave in the present since all their flashbacks and nightmares are a constant reminder of their trauma.
Research has shown that mindfulness meditation relieve some of the symptoms of PTSD, such as anxiety, hyperarousal and avoidance.
Mindfulness meditation involves two different steps:
- Being aware of the present moment and paying attention to it
- Accepting the thoughts and feelings without judging them
How Can Mindfulness Meditation Reduce Trauma Symptoms?
When you are not labeling your thoughts as good or bad, your ability to cope with your emotions increases considerably. PTSD patients who practice mindfulness meditation are more aware on the present and less focused on their past traumatic experiences. After a trauma, people experience numerous difficult emotions and it is natural to label them however, when we are labeling our feelings we also inhibit them and we are not feeling them since we thing avoidance will make them go away so practicing mindfulness meditation can help PTSD patients to cope with their emotions and to accept them as part of their healing process.
If practiced on a regular basis mindfulness meditation allows PTSD patients to take a step back from their negative thoughts and feelings and to notice them with compassion not judgement. It is known that people with PTSD often feel guilty about their trauma or critical towards their thoughts and feelings and mindfulness meditation allows people with PTSD to be gentle in the response they have towards their traumatic experience. Accepting their feelings and emotions as normal is a huge step in the recovery process of a person who suffers from PTSD.
Being mindful means being aware of what’s happening in the present moment and in your own body and mind. These things can give people with PTSD the strength to cope with their emotions in a healthy and non-destructive way and this leads to a faster recovery.
Mindfulness meditation is also great as a first step before other treatments commonly used in people with PTSD such as cognitive processing therapy or prolonged exposure therapy. Both therapies include talking or writing about the trauma under a therapist’s guidance and mindfulness meditation can give people with PTSD more confidence to share their thoughts and emotions regarding their traumatic experience.
Mindfulness meditation is great for people with PTSD who experience chronic pain, negative thinking patterns, addiction, trouble doing daily activities and numerous other problems that trauma survivors have to face on a daily basis.