Meditation May Reduce PTSD in Active-Duty Soldiers

Silhouette of a soldier against the sunsetTranscendental Meditation—a type of meditation that encourages practitioners to cultivate mindfulness and eliminate distracting thoughts without embracing a specific religious ideology—may reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD) among active-duty soldiers, according to a study published in Military Medicine.

According to statistics from the United States Department of Veterans affairs, 7-8% of the general population and 11-20% of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experience PTSD each year. Research already points to a number of benefits associated with various types of meditation, including reduced anxiety and insomnia, lower blood pressure, lower rates of depression, and even improvements in symptoms of asthma and cancer.

Transcendental Meditation for Soldiers with PTSD

Soldiers on active duty often face multiple deployments where they are repeatedly exposed to trauma and violence and removed from their family and other support systems. To explore how Transcendental Meditation might help, researchers recruited 74 active-duty service members with either PTSD or an anxiety-related condition. All participants had sought treatment at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Half of participants practiced Transcendental Meditation as a supplement to their usual treatment, while the other half continued therapy without trying meditation. After a month, 83.7% of those in the meditation group had stabilized, reduced, or eliminated their use of psychotropic medication, while 10.9% had increased their dosage. Among those who continued their usual treatment without meditation, 59.4% stabilized, reduced, or ceased their use of psychotropic drugs, and 40.5% increased their medication dosage.

At the six-month mark, the meditation group continued to rely less on psychotropic medications than the non-meditation group. Additionally, those who did not meditate saw a 20% increase in symptoms as compared to those who did meditate.

The study’s authors say only about 30% of people who take psychotropic medication for PTSD respond to treatment, so these results may offer an alternative for soldiers with the condition.

Practicing Transcendental Meditation

Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, the study’s lead author and a physiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, recommends two 20-minute sessions of Transcendental Meditation each day. Over time, he says, this approach can calm the brain, reducing activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Transcendental Meditation is a branded, trademarked approach to meditation that requires practitioners to learn from a certified instructor. To find a course or learn more about the practice, click here.

References:

  1. How common is PTSD? (2015, August 13). Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp
  2. Meditation. (2014, July 19). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858
  3. Transcendental Meditation may reduce PTSD symptoms, medication use in active-duty personnel. (2016, January 11). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/mcog-tmm011116.php
  4. Transcendental Meditation technique. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mum.edu/about-mum/consciousness-based-education/transcendental-meditation-technique/

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  • brig

    brig

    January 12th, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    It is probably a good thing for all of us to at least give a try

  • webster

    webster

    January 12th, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Will there be someone with availability who can help walk these soldiers through the process? It isn’t one that can easily be taught and so takes a little bit of time and I even think guidance by someone who is well trained to walk you through the first few sessions.

  • Judith

    Judith

    January 14th, 2016 at 10:39 AM

    It must be so hard for even the strongest of our soldiers to see all that they have to see on a daily basis and then to try to reconcile that with their other feelings. Seeing those things has to at times feel like some kind of out of body experience, because you so much would want to separate that from the other part of your life.
    If this could help them then I would be all for it.

  • Tara

    Tara

    January 15th, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    TM has been the very most therapeutic and effective stress management, life supporting experience. I am glad to see this technique being share with those who suffer. Everyone could benefit from this practice!

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