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College Students Lower Stress and Blood Pressure with Meditation

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Psychological distress that leads to high blood pressure, was lowered through Transcendental Meditation in a study of college students. Students at risk for physical and mental health problems in college were found to benefit from Transcendental Meditation, evidenced by lower blood pressure and improved psychological distress and coping.

Background information for the study, that included 298 students at American University, points to a fifty percent increase in depression among college students. Compared to ten years ago, antidepressant use has doubled. Transcendental Meditation is a timely intervention for college students to improve mental and physical health given the increase of distress noted on college campuses. Practicing meditation was found to lower blood pressure that can prevent long-term health problems.

Sanford Nidich, EdD, lead author and senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management explains, "Previous research has shown that psychological distress such as anxiety, depression, and anger contribute to the development of hypertension in young adults. The study is the first to show that controlling stress among college students also leads to improvements in blood pressure

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Students were split into two groups. One group practiced meditation, and the other was put on a wait list. Students at risk for hypertension who involved themselves with Transcendental Meditation for three months experienced a drop of 6.3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 4.0 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure – the changes in turn reduce risk of future blood pressure elevations by fifty two percent. The lower blood pressure readings were associated with lower stress levels.

Blood pressure, coping ability and psychological distress were measured in the student groups at baseline, and after the three month period. The Transcendental Meditation group was compared to the control group of college students. Transcendental Meditation successfully lowered blood pressure and improved mental health among college students who practiced the meditation technique and who are faced with uncertain futures, financial strains, and the need for academic achievement. Another recent study revealed that meditation can also reduce the risk of death and cardiovascular events in patients with heart disease by forty seven percent.


Transcendental Meditation Program