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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2017 Oct 2;42(6):170021. doi: 10.1503/jpn.170021. [Epub ahead of print]

Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence.

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From the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., Canada (Boyd); the Mood Disorders Program, St. Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Ont., Canada (Boyd, McKinnon); the Homewood Research Institute, Guelph, Ont., Canada (Boyd, Lanius, McKinnon); the Department of Psychiatry, Western University, London, Ont., Canada (Lanius); the Department of Neuroscience, Western University, London, Ont., Canada (Lanius); the Imaging Division, Lawson Health Research Institute, London, Ont., Canada (Lanius); and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., Canada (McKinnon).


Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have emerged as promising adjunctive or alternative intervention approaches. A scoping review of the literature on PTSD treatment studies, including approaches such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and metta mindfulness, reveals low attrition with medium to large effect sizes. We review the convergence between neurobiological models of PTSD and neuroimaging findings in the mindfulness literature, where mindfulness interventions may target emotional under- and overmodulation, both of which are critical features of PTSD symptomatology. Recent emerging work indicates that mindfulness-based treatments may also be effective in restoring connectivity between large-scale brain networks among individuals with PTSD, including connectivity between the default mode network and the central executive and salience networks. Future directions, including further identification of the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness interventions in patients with PTSD and direct comparison of these interventions to first-line treatments for PTSD are discussed.


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