Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a major global health issue. Epidemiologic studies indicate that approximately 8% of Americans have had or will have PTSD during their lifetime. Some experts suggest that, at any given time, 2.4% of the population is experiencing PTSD symptoms. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. Other estimates suggest that trauma-related disorders cost over $45 billion U.S. dollars a year in medical and related costs.
The primary community who suffers from PTSD is the U.S. forces’ war veterans. On average, about 13% of war veterans have PTSD. Sadly, the worst outcome of PTSD is suicide; more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide each year from 2008 through 2016, and it is increasing every year.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can wreak havoc in one’s life and must be dealt with carefully, which has a severe impact on society at large.
There are treatments available for PTSD, and these are very expensive and do not work in many cases. Today, people suffering from PTSD are recommended to rely on medication and therapy to set their life back on course and look at the mind-body practice of yoga as a potential de-stressing technique. Yoga is an ancient yet unique technique that works on both body and mind and effectively helps overcome PTSD symptoms.
Current status of treatment plan followed by the military:
The federal government spends about $3 billion to treat veterans and soldiers suffering from PTSD every year. The problem is – that no one knows if the treatment programs are working. Findings show there is variability across the nation in the rates and numbers of deaths by suicide among Veterans. Overall, the Veteran rates mirror those of the general population in the geographic region, with the highest rates in Western states. While we see higher rates of suicide in some states with smaller populations, most Veteran suicides are still in the heaviest populated areas.
The suicide rate among middle-aged and older adult Veterans remains high. In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all Veterans who died by suicide were age 50 or older.
After adjusting for differences in age and sex, the risk for suicide was 22 percent higher among Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adults. After adjusting for age differences, the risk for suicide was 19 percent higher among male Veterans when compared to U.S. non- Veteran adult men. After adjusting for age differences, the risk for suicide was 2.5 times higher among female Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adult women. The average number of Veteran suicides per day was 17.6 in 2018.
Boston Center of Excellence for Health and Human Development (BoCE) experts have researched healing people, especially the veterans who suffer from PTSD using alternative and complementary methods. We have evidence of the efficacy of an integrative approach to the healing and rehabilitation of people who have PTSD. This wellness program is based on mind-body-based wellness interventions.
The rationale for the Body-Mind-based holistic wellness program as an effective treatment option:
Numerous studies are conducted globally to evaluate Yoga-Meditation-based therapeutic protocols’ efficacy. Yoga is a comprehensive mind-body wellness system that includes physical exercises, breathing, and mindfulness exercises such as meditation.
According to Sarah Krill Williston, M.Ed., Ph.D., from VA Boston Healthcare System:
Yoga is considered beneficial through its downregulation (that is, the process of reducing or suppressing a response to a stimulus) of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. These are two physiological systems that respond to and recover from stressors in our environment. Yoga may also be effective through its effect on emotion-regulation skills, such as the ability to identify, label, and respond effectively to fear, sadness, and other emotions.
A case study of the effect of yoga practice on brain function and PTSD symptoms at Michigan State University (MSU) was conducted in 2014. Over eight weeks, the study documented dramatic improvements in subjects’ anxiety levels, PTSD symptoms, ability to focus, and multitasking skills. Subjects began feeling better, subject also began performing better on the two-hour battery of cognitive tests used each week to document changes in his brain function over the course of the study. Subjects began the study with mild PTSD symptoms, but their symptom score dropped from 15 to 4 over the course of the study. The score on a test of how distractible they were dropped from about 80 to 0. Their working memory, an ability that facilitates multitasking, scores doubled.
Yoga includes Physical Postures (Yoga Asana), special Breathing techniques (pranayama), mindfulness meditation and visualization activities, and other auxiliary support such as massage and herbal supplements.
Yoga-related self-care or self-management strategies are widely accessible and are empowering and adequately address the mind-body elements of PTSD.
Every subject will go through a 90-day direct intervention/practice. There will be a continued follow-up reinforcement for another 90 days. We will reinforce the regime by a)90 days of virtual follow-ups b) Virtual community building for peer-to-peer reinforcement.
All subjects will participate in a 90-minute on-site physical training program for 90 days – twice a week for 90 minutes.
They will have to practice daily for 60 minutes at home using virtual sessions.
A session will have no more than 25 participants during a physical session. Virtual sessions can be 25-40 people in a given session.
A digital platform will be used for tracking, monitoring, and for practicing the protocol any time any place. Also, we will create a social group and network to exchange experiences.
- Participants will see changes in the areas of health and well-being, lifestyle, psychosocial integration, and perceptions of self in relation to the world. It will help normalize their physical and mental states would significantly improve their overall lifestyle, family, and social
- Qualitative analysis will identify three major themes:
- Drop PTSD symptom score from 15 to
- Drop distractible to
- Increase working memory, an ability that facilitates multitasking by 50%
- Reduction of costly and prolonged treatments and saving a large number of government
- Providing long-term healing support as opposed to complete dependency on chemical drugs with side-effects
Leadership and expertise:
There will be a Program Manager to oversee the whole program with the active support of experts.
The experts who will guide and help implement the project include but are not limited to the following medical experts with cumulative research and clinical experience of 125 years:
Chief Medical Expert – Dr. Darshan Mehta, MD, Brigham and Women’s Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (BHI-MGH), Harvard Medical School
Dr. Satbir Khalsa, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Dr. Jay Glaser, MD, University of Massachusetts Medical School Dr. Bal Ram Singh, Ph.D., President Institute of Advanced Sciences