Transcendental Meditation causes significant stress reduction in veterans with PTSD symptoms

In an article published in Military Medicine, researchers reported that Iraq/Afghanistan military veterans experienced a 50% decline in their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms following an 8-week stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation course. A total of 5 veterans between the ages of 25 and 40 years with PTSD symptoms were a part of the pilot study. They had served nearly 10-24 months, and were involved in moderate or heavy moderate combat.
Georgetown University Medical School researchers explained that decreases in stress and depression, betterment of relationships, and improvements in quality of life could be attributed to Transcendental Meditation. All veterans were quite positive about the course, and it was well accepted by them as it was easy to perform.

The effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation for PTSD symptoms was measured using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Considered as the gold standard by the Department of Veterans Affairs, CAPS is used for the evaluation and diagnosis of PTSD in both civilian trauma survivors and military veterans.

Seasonal affective disorder or SAD was first described by Senior researcher, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., who established the use of light therapy for SAD patients.

Rosenthal said: “Even though the number of veterans in this study was small, the results were very impressive. 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 of this study were similar to those seen in a randomized controlled study conducted in Vietnam veterans who underwent 3 months of twice-daily Transcendental Meditation. Compared to participants receiving conventional psychotherapy, those receiving Transcendental Meditation demonstrated very few symptoms, and a vast majority did not require further treatment. The study conducted in 1985 at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine was published in the Journal of Counseling and Development.

Sarina Grosswald, EdD, Co-researcher, said: “Even though the combat experiences of OEF/OIF 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.”
Rosenthal said: “Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.”

PTSD patients are perfect candidates for Transcendental Meditation as they have an overactive flght-or-flight response. Rosenthal urged that combat-related PTSD veterans are in urgent need of inexpensive and effective therapies for their condition.

Rosenthal added: “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.”

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