The prevalence of traumatic events among adults in the United States range from 40-90%. The highest prevalence is seen in veterans or current individuals in the armed forces. Exposure to traumatic events, such as being in war, can lead to the development of mental health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and suicidal ideation. Gaining knowledge of potential mediators of the link between trauma exposure and mental health outcomes help enrich treatment and the development of more targeted clinical interventions.

Mindfulness is a clinical intervention that has become part of a component package for treatment of experiencing a traumatic event. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way and cultivating awareness of one’s mental state; and shifting attention from ruminative thought patterns to the present moment (Kachadourian et al., 2021). This allows a person to respond with flexibility when in a situation that has previously evoked distress caused by the traumatic event(s). The individual will be more likely to engage in adaptive behaviors by increasing acceptance of trauma-related experiences and decreasing the impact of trauma related stimuli.

Interventions to help bolster mindfulness may further help alleviate the negative mental health impact that aggregate traumas on individuals, particularly for U.S. military veterans. Other mindfulness factors that should be further researched include observing (i.e., ability to notice or attend to internal and external experiences), describing (i.e., ability to label internal experiences with words), nonjudging of inner experience (i.e., taking a nonevaluative stance toward thoughts and feelings), and nonreactivity to inner experience (i.e., tendency to allow thoughts and feelings to come and go). These may help with differential associations between trauma exposure and mental health.

Reference:

Kachadourian, L. K., Harpaz-Rotem, I., Tsai, J., Southwick, S., & Pietrzak, R. H. (2021). Mindfulness as a mediator between trauma exposure and mental health outcomes: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans Study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 13(2), 223–230. https://doi-org.ruby.uhv.edu/10.1037/tra0000995

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