Mindfulness & Veterans With PTSD

Mindfulness can be described as being aware in the present moment. Not only mindful in the present moment, but mindful of thoughts, feelings, and needs. Mindfulness is a form of meditation with an important aspect to it—acceptance. Using mindfulness practices can help people to increase their ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression.

Mental Health in Veterans

Veteran mental health services are of the utmost importance in order to help returning veterans recover from their combat experiences and mental health issues related to their military service. If you need support for a specific mental health problem—or if you are having problems sleep, anger, or returning to civilian life—there are plenty of resources out there available to you for help.

What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), at its most basic, is an over-expression of normal mental and physiological processes. This is typically seen in the "fight-or-flight" response.

Symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Re-experiencing trauma through intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance of triggering activities that envoke emotions of trauma
  • increase in anxiety or paranoia, difficulty sleeping, and destructive behaviors
  • Big changes in mood, increased feeling of depression, difficulty concentrating, and isolation from peers

How Common is PTSD?

The U.S. Psychiatric Response in the 20th Century reports that incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among veteran varies depending on which conflict a service member was involved with.

  • Estimates of PTSD incidence from Vietnam are around 15%
  • Estimates of PTSD incidence from the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War are from 15.6% - 17.1%

How Can You Help?

There are many ways you can help a loved one who is suffering from PTSD.

  • Be willing to lend your ear and listen but don't put pressure on them to talk
  • Let them know you care and express your commitment to the relationship
  • Encourage him or her to talk to a doctor or a trained assessment and counseling professional specializing in mental health.
  • Encourage them to join a mentor or support group as sterlinglawyers often spotlight
  • Visit the resources at the bottom of this page for more information

Get help if talk of self harm or suicide occurs. If you feel he or she is in danger, immediately call 911. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and press "1" to connect to the Veterans Crisis Line to speak with a trained counselor.

Importance Of Mindfulness in Veterans

Mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and it's particularly relevant for PTSD for combat Veterans, because it teaches people to be in the moment, in the present, and not to be thinking about that combat engagement or even some of other stressful or traumatic events that could have happened.

Being mindful is being able to notice the changes within your life and your emotions rather than react to them. Once you notice them, you can choose whether acting on them is what you really want to do. Being able to be calm and collected within your thoughts is imperative.

If you sit in meditation for a little while you might begin to realize that your thoughts and emotions are not within your control — they do not define you and you should not let them define you. All that you can control is how you relate to your emotions.

Mindful Meditation

Anyone can practice mindfulness. The only thing that you need is a comfortable place to focus:

  • Sit down in a comfortable position
  • Notice and relax your body. Paying attention to how your body feels in that moment.
  • Focus on your breath. Notice your natural breath and notice your natural breathing of in and out. Do this for 5-10 minutes.
  • When your mind wanders, don’t wander. Just notice the thoughts without pursuing them and then redirect your focus to your breathing.
  • After a few minutes, shift the focus back to your body and how it feels.
  • After this, you are done. Reflect on the experience and how relaxed you feel.

Resources and Programs

Veteran Affairs carries out four specific missions to help the men and women who serve in the military. The four values that they focus on are Veterans Health Care, Veterans Benefits, National Cemeteries, and improving the Nation’s preparedness for response to war, terrorism, national emergencies, and natural disasters through planning.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veteran organization that offers programs, events, as well as services for wounded veterans of the military actions after the event of September 11, 2001. The organization has over 500 non-profit operations.

Veterans Families United allows outreaches for treatment and therapy for veterans that suffer from PTSD. A lot of the therapy consists of group or individual sessions to work though problems. Offerns outpatient treatment centerthat allow veterans to come into the location with a planned program or in-patient program that has the veteran stay at the facility.