Jiu Jitsu for PTSD


TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – At least 15 percent of U.S. military servicemen and women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Intense psychotherapy and medication are the traditional therapies. Now, researchers are studying the impact of one form of martial arts on veterans.

Jiu Jitsu is more than just combative martial arts for Army veteran Jacob King.

King detailed, “I lost some friends oversees. That was really difficult for me to cope with.”

Jiu Jitsu is helping him battle PTSD.

King described, “Feeling in my chest, I’d get a headache, get a little dizzy. This is not normal. This isn’t right.”

About 15 percent who served in Operation Iraqi freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD. Gulf War veterans: 12 percent and the Vietnam War: 15 percent.

“There really are no good therapies out there right now,” said Alison Willing, Ph.D, a professor at the University of South Florida’s Center of Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa, Florida. (Read Full Interview)

Willing said costly intense therapy and medication has a low success rate. This is why she’s studying the effects of Jiu Jitsu on PTSD.

Willing told Ivanhoe, “The effects of this first study were so dramatic. The PTSD scores on all of the valid scales were getting so much better to the point where you don’t usually see with traditional PTSD therapies.”

King’s headaches and sleepless nights have pretty much gone away.

King said, “I feel good. I haven’t felt this way since before the military before Afghanistan, before everything. I feel okay.”

“The fact that we’re still engaged in these actions overseas means it’s only going to get worse,” said Willings.

“This is what’s holding me together right now,” detailed King.

A combative sport that may be King’s best defense against the symptoms of PTSD.

Professor Willing said as the study continues they’ll have a better idea of how often the Jiu Jitsu will need to be done for veterans to feel the continued effects.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Travis Bell, Videographer.




REPORT:       MB #4252


BACKGROUND: PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It’s normal to feel on edge after a traumatic event, but if it doesn’t subside after a few weeks and the symptoms go on for months, you may have PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are reliving the event through flashbacks, bad memories, or nightmares. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event is common, or avoiding thinking and talking about it all together. Having negative feelings about yourself is a symptom, as is hyperarousal (feeling jittery, on the lookout for danger, trouble concentrating or sleeping, feeling angry and irritable, or startling easily). Other health problems include depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, chronic pain, and relationship problems.
(Source: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp)

TREATMENT: The usual treatments for PTSD are psychotherapy or counseling with a therapist, or taking medications that are meant to help with depression. But a different treatment might be a better option for some. Alison Willing, a University of South Florida Health professor, conducted a study on the possible respite of PTSD through the practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as well as traditional exercise. Willing said the study came together when many veterans who train at Tampa Jiu Jitsu, a local gym, reported the benefits they saw from the martial art for their PTSD symptoms. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is vital for remaining mentally fit and reducing stress because it releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. The aim of the study was to hopefully create a more efficient method of treating the symptoms of PTSD. Most traditional remedies are both costly and time consuming. The study is designed to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, rather than attempting to cure the disorder, and for some veterans it is proving to be their best option to eliminate sleepless nights.

(Source: http://www.usforacle.com/news/view.php/864614/Jiu-Jitsu-study-aims-to-soothe-symptoms-)

VETERANS STATISTICS: Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 percent of Veterans who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year. Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 percent of Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year. Vietnam War: About 15 percent of Vietnam Veterans were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.



Alison E. Willing                      Kevin Kip

813-974-7812                          813-974-9266

awilling@health.usf.edu         kkip@health.usf.edu


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

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