The sound of the waves has long been associated with soothing one’s mind. But there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to support this claim. Now, the Navy has launched a $1 million research project to find out if surfing has any therapeutic benefits which could be harnessed to treat military personnel struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or sleep problems.
Experts believe riding the waves can be beneficial to soldiers with PTSD. It can be a great boon to those who are hesitant in attending traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions in groups. Most people are generally uncomfortable when it comes to opening up about traumatic experiences in their personal lives. However, it becomes easy to speak up among fellow surfers on the beach. In other words, surfing is not only a therapy but also recreation for those who need it, especially military personnel with PTSD.
According to Helen Metzger, head of the health and wellness department at Naval Medical Center San Diego, participants can start talking about surfing and then they move on to discuss things like common experiences, and traumas. “For many of our patients, exercise is the best medicine, and exercise in the natural environment is even better,” said James LaMar II, a physician at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and a volunteer in the hospital’s surfing program. “Surfing is a way back to a healthy life, the kind of life they had before they were traumatized,” he added.
Compared to civilians, marines, soldiers, coast guards, and airmen, especially those stationed in war-torn zones and conflict areas, are more likely to witness large-scale violence, and life- threatening events, leaving them more vulnerable to PTSD. A 2013 study conducted by the Congressional Research Service reported a 65 percent spike in mental health diagnoses among serving officers during 2001 and 2011. Additionally, the study suggested that PTSD cases rose by 650 percent with over 900,000 individuals being diagnosed with a minimum of one mental health issue during that decade.
Hundreds of soldiers who return from the battlefields after completing successful deployments in trouble-ridden regions, often have something in common to say – “The battle may be over, but it continues within each day.” Sadly, mental wounds caused by war often take a very long time to heal than the physical injuries. According to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report, in 2014, around 65 percent of all veterans who committed suicide were aged 50 years or older, a figure that highlights the deplorable state of mental health care nationwide.
The VA suggests PTSD symptoms can surface or re-surface even quite late in life as the advancing years could have a negative impact on antecedent mental health conditions or trigger newer disorders altogether. Extended periods of exposure to traumatic experiences can render any individual vulnerable to PTSD. Members of armed forces who are on the battlefield face higher odds of experiencing chronic levels of stress and anxiety, which pushes them toward severe mental health conditions, such as PTSD. In the absence of proper medical intervention, such a condition could snowball into further serious complications, putting their lives at risk.
If you or your loved one is battling PTSD or any other psychological trauma, which continues to interfere with daily life activities, get in touch with Sovereign Health of California that offers a variety of customized PTSD residential treatment programs. Clinicians at our world-class PTSD residential treatment centers are trained to identify the underlying causes, and prescribe effective treatments as well as group psychotherapy based on a patient’s requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for further assistance.