Mindfulness helps war veterans
Psychologist Tua Preuss is guiding war veteran Thomas Biehl through a mental training (photo: Tonny Foghmar, Aarhus University Hospital).
Can war veterans benefit from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction? Yes, researchers at Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University are convinced. Defence Command Denmark will now have to decide if they want to use the methods.
Post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, this is very common for some of those deployed by Defence Command Denmark. It is estimated that one fifth of the Danish veterans have physical or mental problems.
On this background the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics at Aarhus University Hospital and Danish Centre for Mindfulness at Aarhus University started a project together with the foundation ”Soldaterlegatet” supporting staff deployed on missions outside Denmark to test the programme Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for war veterans. Among other things the programme includes yoga and mental training
Everyday life becomes easier
The results of the research project are now ready and there is no doubt – Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction has a positive effect on war veterans. The participants experienced less anxiety, depression and pain after completing the programme.
- The mental function of war veterans has considerably improved. They isolated themselves less often and it has become easier for them to manage everyday life, says psychologist Tua Preuss who is one of the researchers behind the project.
Better at coping with stress
Michael Nyrup Thornqvist – veteran and participant in the research project – says that he has experienced many benefits from participating in the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction project.
- I understand my symptoms better and I find it easier to cope with them. I have become aware that my symptoms are caused by stress, which is easier for me to manage today, says Michael Nyrup Thornqvist.
Several veterans call for using mindfulness programmes preventively to build a mental robustness before being deployed. These methods are already used in the US army.
Defence Command Denmark has decided that they will increase focus on mental robustness among the staff deployed - and improve the efforts for veterans.
Biological tests also show positive results
Along with the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme, some of the participants in the project underwent a number of measurements of biological and psychological stress-markers such as heart rate, attention and brain activity.
- The preliminary results are positive and this supports that improved mental health leads to measureable positive, physical changes, says Tua Preuss.
Tua Preuss, Psychologist, Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Pscyhosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital and Danish Centre for Mindfulness, Aarhus University, Tel.: +45 78 46 43 39, e-mail: email@example.com
Lone Fjorback, MD, Consultant, Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Pscyhosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital and Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Tel.: +45 78 46 43 26, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Johanne Pallesen, Biologist, Senior Scientist, Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Pscyhosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital, Tel.: +45 78 46 43 46, e-mail:email@example.com