More than seven million adults worldwide are diagnosed with PTSD in a typical year.
The condition is triggered by a traumatic event and can cause flashbacks, anxiety and other symptoms.
PTSD sufferers have abnormally low levels of cortisol – one of two hormones used to regulate the body’s response to stress.
They benefit when these levels increase.
A study found that sufferers responded favourably to an eight week mind=body programme
“Mind-body exercise offers a low-cost approach that could be used as a complement to traditional psychotherapy or drug treatments,” said the study’s lead author, Sang H. Kim, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health.
“These self-directed practices give PTSD patients control over their own treatment and have few side effects.”
The study looked at the impact of mind-body practices in nurses – a group at high risk of PTSD.
Nurses from the University of New Mexico hospital took part and were divided into two group.
One group took 60 minute session where they performed stretching, balancing deep breathing and mindfulness.
The control group did not take part in the twice-weekly classes.
Cortisol levels rose in 67pc of those taking part in the mind-body programme and their PTSD checklist scores dropped by 41pc.
This compared with a 17pc increase in cortisol in the control group and a 4pc drop in PTSD scores.
“Participants in the mind-body intervention reported that not only did the mind-body exercises reduce the impact of stress on their daily lives, but they also slept better, felt calmer and were motivated to resume hobbies and other enjoyable activities they had dropped,” Kim said.
“This is a promising PTSD intervention worthy of further study to determine its long-term effects.”
The study is published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).