Self-Care and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Although the 2010 Veterans Administration/Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guidelines of Management of PTSD does not recommend any self-help or mindfulness-based approaches as first-line treatments for PTSD, these techniques are known to assist and address the patient’s engagement in psychiatric care, hyper-arousal symptoms and co-morbid conditions such as sleep difficulties and chronic pain (Khusid, 2013).


In light of President Obama’s 2012 executive order to develop improved treatments of PTSD, the mental health community appears to be embracing mindfulness-based approaches along with a shift of responsibility from the physician to the patient.


Mindfulness or curiosity, openness, acceptance and love (COAL) focuses one’s attention through neural mechanisms within the lateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus.  Mindfulness regulates emotion via prefrontal cortex inhibition of the amygdala.

These neural mechanisms allow for a clinical reduction in automatic negative thoughts, an increase in tolerance for negative affect and pain as well as an increase in self-compassion (Schneider et al, 2013)