New evidence suggests that soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress may benefit from transcendental meditation. After only two months of engaging in this widely accepted method of meditation, five war veterans showed marked improvement, a decrease of nearly fifty percent, of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Each of the five soldiers had been deployed for a minimum of 10 months to Afghanistan, Iraq, or both, and had engaged in combat. Although this was merely a pilot study, the men, aged 25-40, all showed similar results as veterans from a previous study which examined the effects of transcendental meditation over a longer period of time.
Transcendental meditation has been shown to provide significant decreases in depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It has also been reported to enhance relationships and create an improved quality of life. The technique was performed twice daily, for 10 to 20 minutes each time. The soldiers found the method easy and accepted the technique readily. The soldiers’ PTSD symptoms were measured using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), which is the standard evaluation tool used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Norman Rosenthal, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University medical School, director of research at Capital Clinical Research Associates in Rockville Maryland, was the senior researcher of the study. He was also the first clinician to identify season affective disorder (SAD) and was instrumental in the use of light therapy to treat SAD. 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.” Although there are other treatment options for PTSD in soldiers, they are not as effective and require specialized software. “Based on our study and previous findings, I believe Transcendental Meditation certainly warrants further study for combat-related PTSD,” concluded Rosenthal.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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