Friday, May 16, 2014

Marines Receiving Mindfulness Training Recover Better From Stress of Combat Exercises, Study Finds

Mindfulness training can help Marines recover better from the stress of an intensive combat training exercise, according to the study, "Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-Risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment," published online today in AJP in Advance.

Four Marine platoons were randomly assigned to a 20-hour mindfulness training course and then compared with four control platoons. The Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training program emphasized “interoceptive awareness, attentional control, and tolerance of present-moment experiences,” wrote Douglas Johnson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and colleagues.

All the Marines then took part in a one-day combat program at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The mindfulness group reacted more strongly to stress but also recovered more quickly, as measured by their heart and breathing rates. Functional MRI examination of a subset of Marines showed greater attenuation of brain activity, particularly in the right insula and anterior cingulate cortex, compared with controls. “The results show that mechanisms related to stress recovery can be modified in healthy individuals prior to stress exposure, with important implications for evidence-based mental health research and treatment,” said the researchers.

“Mindfulness training won’t make combat easier,” added co-author Martin Paulus, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at UCSD, in a statement. “But we think it can help Marines recover from stress and return to baseline functioning more quickly.” To read more about prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder, see the Psychiatric News article, “Early Intervention Offers Hope For Preventing PTSD.”

(Image: Oleg Zabielin/


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