Veterans re-acclimating to civilian life are taking note of new research that suggests dancing helps veterans combat PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat. Approximately 12 percent of Gulf War veterans suffer from PTSD and up to 20 percent of veterans of more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with this mental health problem, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, irritability and insomnia, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
As part of a treatment plan that includes counseling, dancing can help veterans cope with PTSD by relieving stress and providing a fun, social activity. A study conducted by Dance for Veterans, a dance program that uses movement, creativity, relaxation, and social cohesion to treat veterans with mental illnesses found that participating in a dance class reduced the stress levels of veterans at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System by 25 percent.
Fred Astaire Dance Studios offers dance classes for people of all ages, including special discounts for military veterans. Ballroom dancing is a low-impact workout that can help military heroes improve their quality of life.
Reduce stress. Focusing on breathing and set movements can help veterans reduce stress.
Take control. PTSD robs victims of control. It can leave veterans feeling helpless when they are unable to manage their emotional reaction to a trigger or flashback. Learning a new dance gives veterans renewed confidence because they can control their body’s movements, the American Dance Therapy Association reports.
Find purpose. Learning new dances also gives struggling veterans a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Check out how these soldiers use dance to relieve stress on duty.
Soldiers from the U.S. Navy and Marines perform a parody of “Gangnam Style” by popular South Korean singer, Psy.
The Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78 Blue Hawks remake Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” while deployed on the USS Carl Vinson.
These Marines deployed in Afghanistan display questionable dance skills in a tribute to artist Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.”
As the nation honors our military heroes this month on Veterans Day, visit your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios location to find out how dancing improves the quality of life of our veterans.