A form of meditation known as mindfulness can relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent study found improvements in stress-hormone levels, leading to better sleep, a calmer demeanor, and a motivation to resume enjoyable activities among nurses who participated. Nurses are at high risk for the disorder due to repeated exposure to stressors.
PTSD affects more than 7 million US adults in a given year. It’s triggered by a traumatic event and may cause flashbacks, anxiety, and other symptoms. PTSD patients have abnormally low levels of cortisol, which regulates the body’s response to stress. They also have high levels of a stress-inducing hormone known as CRH.
The mindfulness sessions—which included stretching, balancing, and deep breathing exercises while focusing on awareness of the body’s movements, sensations, and surroundings—led to much higher levels of cortisol. PTSD symptoms also dropped significantly.