Even if they are not diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), servicemembers and first responders undoubtedly face a great deal of mental strain on a day-to-day basis. People in such high-stress jobs have turned to a wide variety of methods to cope with the effects of this mental condition, and one woman who has seen the impact war can have up close is reaching out to many of them with a new technique – yoga, according to Military Times.
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The program, known as YogaFit for Warriors, was started by Lt. Col. Shaye Molendyke, who has seen the effects of war up close during her time in the military working in the psychiatric ward at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. She has been regularly practicing yoga since a serious injury left her unable to run 15 years ago, and her new program focuses less on acrobatic poses and esoteric language and more on accessing the mental health benefits of the exercise. Molendyke hopes this unconventional approach to PTSD will help ensure anybody with the condition – whether it be a firefighter or soldier – is not afraid to seek help.
"The stigma attached to being seen for PTSD in the military – you're certainly not going to say, 'I'm having trouble managing my emotions,' " she told the news source. "What I hope happens is that people hear how yoga can help, then they go to a yoga class in their military community where someone has been trained and teaches a trauma-sensitive class"
YogaFit for Warriors comes at a time when the way the medical community understands PTSD is rapidly changing. Earlier this year, researchers from New York University's School of Medicine pinpointed the specific area of the brain that is affected by the condition. Specifically, they found that servicemembers with PTSD had much higher activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that's responsible for managing fear and other anxious feelings.
As the evolution of of PTSD treatment continues, it could come at precisely the right time. Thousands of troops are slated to separate from service in the coming years as the U.S. winds down operation in Afghanistan, and an estimated 20 percent of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan experience symptoms of PTSD.