|After four weeks of practicing TM twice a day, war veterans with PTSD experienced dramatic reductions in symptoms|
The accumulated evidence that Transcendental Meditation (TM) helps alleviate anxiety, high blood pressure, drug and alcohol misuse, crime rehabilitation and stress generally, have inspired researchers to study the effect of the daily practise of TM on people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In the latest study the researchers evaluated five war veterans, aged from 25 to 40 years-old. All had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan or even both theatres of war and as a result suffered from PTSD or combat stress. The subjects had served a minimum of 10 months and up to two years in action involving moderate or heavy moderate combat.
Using the 'Clinician Administered PTSD Scale' (CAPS) to measure the effectiveness of TM practice on PTSD symptoms, the researchers found that TM produced:
An important consideration for ease of use is that the technique was well accepted by the veterans and they found it easy to perform.
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.
Rosenthal is quoted as saying:
"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 .... Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the 'fight-or-flight' response."
Effects of Transcendental Meditation in Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom With Post traumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study
Rosenthal, Joshua Z; Grosswald, Sarina; Ross, Richard; Rosenthal, Norman
Norman Rosenthal is the author of a new book, “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation,” released by Tarcher Penguin.
Military Medicine, Volume 176, Number 6, June 2011 , pp. 626-630(5)
In an earlier study, researchers worked with 28 sufferers of PTSD who had served in the US forces during the Vietnam war. The control group undertook psychotherapy and the experimental group learned and practised Transcendental Meditation (TM) during the study period.
The TM group displayed a range of valuable benefits including:
As a result of these psychological benefits the TM subjects generally recorded improved employment status and decreased family problems.
Significantly, the control group undertaking psychotherapy showed little improvement over the same period. On the other hand, most of the TM group required no further treatment other than their daily meditation practice.
Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of post-Vietnam adjustment
Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Medical Centre, Denver, Colorado; Denver Veterans Administration, Vietnam Veterans Outreach Program, Denver, Colorado
Journal of Counselling and Development, 1985
These four studies on war veterans found that TM practice was more effective than Psychotherapy (PT), Adopted Mantra Meditation (MM), Patient-Centered Therapy (PCT), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), PTSD-Health Education (PE), and VA Treatment as Usual (TAU). All studies showed an effect size for TM of greater than -0.8, which is considered a large effect.
Reference. Brooks, J. S., & Scarano, T. (1985). Transcendental Meditation and the treatment of post-Vietnam adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 64, 212-215. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1985.tb01078 Heffner, K. L., Caine, E. D., Crean, H., Franus, N., Moynihan, J. A. , & Talbot, N. (2014). Meditation for PTSD demonstration project: Final report to Mental Health Services, Department of Veteran Affairs. Retrieved from Rochester, New York: Saginaw, Michigan Study. Nidich, S., Mills, P. J., Rainforth, M., Heppner, P., Schneider, R. H., Rosenthal, N. E., Salerno, J., Gaylord-King, C., & Rutledge, T. (2018).
Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(12), 975-986. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30384-5
Heffner, K. L., Crean, H. F., & Kemp, J. E. (2016). Meditation programs for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder: Aggregate findings from a multi-site evaluation. Psychol Trauma, 8(3), 365-374. doi:10.1037/tra0000106.
Bellehsen, M., Stoycheva, V., Cohen, B., & Nidich, S. (2021). A pilot randomized controlled trial of Transcendental Meditation as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22665
A study of Congolese refugees found that the refugees’ PTSD symptoms decreased rapidly within the first 10 days of TM practice, and after 30 days they practically reached non-symptomatic levels.(Rees et al. 2014)
Rees, B., F. Travis, D. Shapiro, and R. Chant. "Significant Reductions in Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Congolese Refugees after 10 Days Transcendental Meditation Practice." Journal of Traumatic Stress 27, no. 1 (2014): 112-15.
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