Reports of battle – associated stress appear as early as the 6th century BC. Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] – like symptoms have also been recognized in combat veterans of many military conflicts since, the modern understanding of combat trauma dates from the 1970’s, largely as a result of the problems that were still being experienced by Vietnam veterans long after their war. The term post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly called PTSD, was officially created in the mid 1970’s to describe the symptoms experienced by Vietnam veterans.
Over 2.1 million American men and women have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. These men and women, who make up less tha 1% of the United States population, bear the burden of the visible and invisible scars from the horrid circumstances and events of the war. Rates of combat related trauma [PTSD] among veterans have been found to be increasing, with estimates as high as 20% in war veterans returning from those theaters of war. Suicide, as a result of PTSD, and other reckless PTSD related behaviors is the leading cause of death among these returning warriors.
There are a variety of definitions of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Veterans Administration [VA] defines PTSD as; “a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic and dangerous event, such as a physical assult, rape, natural disasters, and war zone exposure.” The DSM-IV [Diagnostic & Stastical Manual (of Mental Disorders)], used by the American Psychiatric Association, states; “the essential feature of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to one’s physical integrity.” The DSV-IV determines what treatments are used for PTSD by doctors, hospitals and insurance compamies.
There are many variations on the definition of PTSD by individuals [PHD’s, Psychiatrists and Psychologists] and organizations. However there is a common agreement on the general symptoms of those suffering from war related PTSD. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event.
- Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
- Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the event
- Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma.
- Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind one of the trauma
- Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
- Loss of interest in activities and life in general
- Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
- A sense of a limited future
- Increased anxiety and emotional arousal.Other symptoms include; anger, irritability, guilt, shame, self-blame, substance abuse, depression, hopelessness, mistrust, betrayal, suicidal thoughts, alienation, loneliness, and physical aches and pains.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hypervigilance [on constant alert]
- Feeling jumpy and easily startled
- Other symptoms include; anger, irritability, guilt, shame, self-blame, substance abuse, depression, hopelessness, mistrust, betrayal, suicidal thoughts, alienation, loneliness, and physical aches and pains.
Treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Conventional treatment for PTSD deals with symptoms by helping deal with the trauma experienced. Rather than avoiding the trauma and any reminder of it, treatment encourages one to recall and process the emotions and sensations one felt during the original event. in addition to offering an outlet for emotions which have been bottled up, conventional treatments for PTSD also help restore one’s sense of control and reduce the powerful hold the memory of the trauma has on one’s life. These treatments may include:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- EMDR [Eye Movement Desentization and Reprocessing]
- Yoga and Meditation
Meghan’s Foundation’s objective is focused on Yoga and Meditation for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder facing life’s challenges after war. Through yoga and meditation the traumatized veteran learns practices that help them feel calm and in control. These practices work by decreasing sympathetic nervous system activity, the “fight or flight” response, and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is sometimes referred to as, “rest and digest” or “rest and repair,” because the parasympathetic nervous system is the source of the relaxation response that allows the body and mind to heal and repair.
Mindfulness Meditation is designed, in part, to help develop awareness. Mindfulness is a state in which the veteran experiences greater clarity and focus. By developing mindfulness, or the ability to pay attention with interest and curiosity to this present moment, without judgement, veterans are able to respond more skillfully and in line with their goals and intentions.
Lastly, Yoga and Meditation are designed to help the veteran develop a sense of acceptance. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations, they can help the veteran accept and tolerate these thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a way that makes them less overwhelming and more controllable. Instead of falling into the cycles of stress, learning to accept uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations can help develop physical and psychological strength and resilience.
For more information on Yoga for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, visit:
There are many websites discussing the value of Yoga and Meditation for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD].