Traumatized children living in Kosovo experienced significant reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms when treated with a mind-body program according to a new study published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (8/12/08. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur in response to traumatic events. Common symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares or difficulty sleeping, feeling emotionally numb, being easily startled and difficulty concentrating.

The mind-body techniques used in the study were developed by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) and included meditation, biofeedback, breathing techniques, guided imagery and self expression. Eighty-two high school students diagnosed with PTSD were included in the three-month long study. Instructors trained in the CMBM program provided 12 sessions, in small educational settings.

Patients in the mind-body group experienced a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms compared to the control group. The number of children with PTSD symptoms decreased from 100 percent to 18 percent by the end of the study. The techniques reduced stress and symptoms of withdrawal, as well as decreased the frequency of flashbacks and nightmares. The effects were maintained three months after the study.

This mind-body technique is currently being used to treat people in Israel and Gaza who are traumatized by war, as well as those traumatized by Hurricane Katrina in southern Louisiana. It is also used to treat depression in the United States and has been added to a stress reduction program in several U.S. medical schools.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry represents the first randomized controlled trial of any intervention in war-traumatized children.