A controlled breathing course promoting social and emotional health for Vietnam veterans with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder – a randomized controlled trial
Carter, J., Gerbarg, P. L., Brown, R. P., Ware, R. S., Ambrosio, C. D., Anand, L., Dirlea, M., Vermani, M. & Katzman, M. A. (2013). Multi-component yoga breath program for Vietnam veteran posttraumatic stress disorder: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment, 2, 3.
Background: It is appropriate to acknowledge that despite treatment, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continually debilitates many Vietnam veterans. Although therapies have been developed, remission is hard to obtain with either pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy. Evidence has suggested that some forms of yoga may reduce sympathetic overactivity and increase parasympathetic activity, thereby improving stress resilience. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of the Sudarshan Kriya Yoga intervention on symptoms of PTSD as measured by changes in the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) scores. Secondary outcome measures included the CES-D, WHOQoL, AUDIT, and PCLM-17.
Method: Fifty male Vietnam veterans with PTSD (DSM-IV) were referred to the study. Thirty-one participants meeting criteria were subsequently randomised to either the SKY Intervention (adapted for veterans) group or a 6-week wait-list Control. The intervention consisted of 22 hours of guided group yoga instruction over a duration of 5 days, followed by a 2-hour group session which was held weekly for the first month and monthly thereafter for the following 5 months. Severity of PTSD symptoms was assessed at pre-intervention, 6-week post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up for both groups using the CAPS. Additional questionnaires to measure PTSD, depression, quality of life, and alcohol consumption were administered at pre-intervention, post-intervention and follow-up time frames as well.
Results: Twenty-five of the thirty-one enrolled participants completed the study, of which 14 received immediate intervention while 11 constituted the Control group. The Intervention group showed significant decrease in CAPS scores 6 weeks following intervention completion, while the Control group had zero decline within this period. At this point, the Control group received the SKY intervention, and also improved significantly on the CAPS. These improvements were maintained in both groups 6 months following receipt of treatment. The results indicate that multi-component interventions with yoga breath techniques may offer a valuable adjunctive treatment for veterans with PTSD.