As U.S. veterans continue to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, experts search for clues to help them manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Massage has been found to be helpful; and new research indicates that chanting a mantra—repeating a sacred word or phrase, a practice that is a key component of some Eastern religions—can help veterans cope with symptoms of PTSD.

Veterans diagnosed with PTSD from war-related trauma completed six weeks of case management plus a group mantra intervention as part of a randomized trial, noted an abstract published on Measures included PTSD Checklist and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Wellbeing. A “significant” indirect effect of the mantra intervention on PTSD measures was found.

“It is thought that the intervention re-directs attention and initiates relaxation to decrease symptom severity, but there may be other mechanisms that may contribute to this improvement,” the abstract noted. “Findings suggest that one contributing mechanism that partially explains how the mantra intervention reduces PTSD symptom severity in veterans may be by increasing levels of [existential spiritual wellbeing].”

“Spiritual Wellbeing Mediates PTSD Change in Veterans with Military-Related PTSD” ran in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2011 August 28.

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