Veterans Show a 50% Reduction in PTSD Symptoms After 8 Weeks of Transcendental Meditation

by Bob Roth on June 29, 2011

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Veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars showed a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after just eight weeks of practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a pilot study published this month in Military Medicine.

The study evaluated five veterans, ages 25- to 40-years-old, who had served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both, from 10 months to two years involving moderate or heavy moderate combat. The study found that the Transcendental Meditation program produced significant reductions in stress and depression, and marked improvements in relationships and overall quality of life. Furthermore, the authors reported that the technique was easy to perform and was well accepted by the veterans.

VeteranThe Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) was the primary measure for assessing the effectiveness of TM practice on PTSD symptoms. CAPS is considered by the Department of Veterans Affairs as the “gold standard” for PTSD assessment and diagnosis for both military Veteran and civilian trauma survivors.

The paper’s senior researcher, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and Director of Research at Capital Clinical Research Associates in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Rosenthal was the first to describe seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation.”

Dr. Norman

Dr. Norman Rosenthal

“Even though the number of veterans in this study was small, the results were very impressive,” Rosenthal said. “These young men were in extreme distress as a direct result of trauma suffered during combat, and the simple and effortless Transcendental Meditation technique literally transformed their lives.”

The findings were similar to those from a randomized controlled study of Vietnam veterans conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In that study, published in the Journal of Counseling and Development in 1985, after three months of twice-daily TM practice, the veterans had fewer symptoms than those receiving the conventional psychotherapy of the day. In fact, most of the TM-treated subjects required no further treatment.

Serina-Grosswald

Sarina Grosswald, EdD.

“Even though the combat experiences of OEF/OIF (Iraq and Afghanistan wars) veterans and Vietnam veterans are quite different, the fact that our study corroborates the results of the previous study tells us that this technique has the potential to be an effective tool against PTSD and combat stress, regardless of combat situation,” explained Sarina Grosswald, EdD, co-researcher on the study.

Rosenthal hypothesizes that the Transcendental Meditation technique helps people with PTSD because regular practice produces long-term changes in sympathetic nervous system activity, as evidenced by decreased blood pressure, and lower reactivity to stress. “Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the ‘fight-or-flight’ response,” he said. People with PTSD show overactive fight-or-flight responses, making them excellent candidates for Transcendental Meditation.

PTSDRosenthal points out that there is an urgent need to find effective and cost-effective treatments for veterans with combat-related PTSD. “The condition is common, affecting an estimated one in seven deployed soldiers and Marines, most of whom do not get adequate treatment. So far, only one treatment—simulation exposure to battleground scenes—has been deemed effective, but it requires specialized software and hardware, trained personnel, and is labor intensive. “Based on our study and previous findings, I believe Transcendental Meditation certainly warrants further study for combat-related PTSD,” says Rosenthal.

References:

Military Medicine
Rosenthal J, et al “Effects of transcendental meditation (TM) in veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a pilot study” Military Medicine 2011; 176: 626-630.

Journal of Counseling and Adjustment
Brooks, J.S., & Scarano, T. Transcendental meditation in the treatment of post-vietnam adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Adjustment, 64, 212-215, 1985.

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  • Linda Klock

    We as humans think we can carry the world on our shoulders and when it gets to much we still think we can carry a little more .
    After a tradgey in our lives, we become different and can’t figure out why no one understands you, and the more you talk the less they want to know, or cares what you are felling . They turn away from you when times are bad. It is a place that I will never return to. I am a surviver of PTSD and thanks to TM, the good Lord, the people in my life, and mostly my Husband. We are walking together through a hard place in our life, the death of our son Dory.

  • http://WWW.MAHARISHIDVD.COM Alan Waite

    I have been meditating since 1967. My VA Doctors contribute my good health to TM. I had cancer a couple of years ago, the VA Doctors were impressed
    how fast I healed with there treatments.
    I was fortunate to be with MAHARISHI at his Ashram, in Rishikesh,India,1968.
    The year the Beatles , Mike Love , Donoavan & Mia Farrow, were there.

    I spent the better part of ’68 with Maharishi, Jerry Jarvis & Charlie Lutes traveling and making my film. “SAGE FOR A NEW GENERATION.

    My being with MAHARISHI, was life changing, and is with me every day.
    Jai Guru Dev, Alan

  • Eve

    I just would like to ask you to make sure that civilian trauma survivors get the care and attention they need as well. There have been around 104.000 civilian deaths in Iraq. Many families have been destroyed and left without care providers. They don’t have resources to pay for proper health care. I would like to know that TM is reaching to them as well as the soldiers.

  • Eric James

    Glad to see TM researchers resurging a bit. There has been a lot of recent research into the benefits of yoga or generic kinds of meditation that give little or no credit to the original research done in the 70′s and 80′s by TM practitioners. (David Orme-Johnson or John T. Farrow for example.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Universal-Public-Friend/218954411458497 Stephen Sela

    I wonder how the second fifty per cent can be reduced.

  • http://www.aplaceofhopeforptsd.com A Place of Hope for PTSD

    great blog, keep up the good work. i can tell you really care!

  • http://transcendentalmeditationinstructions.com /transcendental meditation instructions

    TM has absolutely transformed my life. Its one of the best things that have happened to me.

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