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Transcendental Meditation lowers combat related PTSD in veteran study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
post-traumatic stress

After 8 weeks of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), researchers found a significant reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome in combat veterans.

The findings are important, note the authors, given the urgent need for cost effective treatments for combat related PTSD.

The current study included 5 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan or both for 10 months to 2 years and involved in moderate to heavy combat, ages 25- to 40-years-old.

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 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."

TM may quiet the sympathetic nervous system to treat PTSD

Dr. Rosenthal, author of the new book “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation”, due for release this month, says TM may quiet the sympathetic nervous system, leading to long-term changes that treat symptoms of stress and anxiety.

He explains post-traumatic stress 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.”

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The small group of veterans studied experienced significantly lower stress, improved quality of life and improvement in relationships says Rosenthal, who also notes TM was well accepted by the veterans and easy to learn.

The results of Rosenthal’s study parallels findings from researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, published in 1985 in the Journal of Counseling and Development, conducted on Vietnam veterans. After 3 months of twice daily Transcendental Meditation, symptoms of PTSD were lower than vets receiving conventional psychotherapy, with most requiring no further treatment.

Symptom reduction was measured by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) that Rosenthal explains is the “gold standard” for assessing and evaluating treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder for military veterans and civil personnel.

Meditation courses for Military personnel are offered through the Operation Warrior Wellness program. More information can be found at www.tm.org, www.AskTheDoctors.com, or David Lynch Foundation.

Rosenthal says, given the study finding, Transcendental Meditation warrants more study for treating the post-traumatic stress disorder in combat war veterans. In the small, important finding, PTSD symptoms were lowered 50 percent in the small study, after just 8 weeks of Transcendental Meditation.

Source: Military Medicine, Volume 176, Number 6, June 2011 , pp. 626-630(5)
“Effects of Transcendental Meditation in Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study”
Rosenthal, Joshua Z.; Grosswald, Sarina; Ross, Richard; Rosenthal, Norman

Image credit: Moreguefile

This article updated June 5, 2013