Transcendental Meditation Has Positive Effect on PTSD in Soldiers

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.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Natalie

    Natalie

    June 8th, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    Great news! I hope that the availability is such that more and more soldiers who suffer with this and come home will have access to this successful treatment.

  • Gus

    Gus

    June 8th, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    This is good!! So now there won’t be that much homeless war veterans? doubt it

  • erica

    erica

    June 8th, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    wow!if this meditation can help even war memories and mental scars then I really need to try this because I’m someone who tends to get depressed rather easily and this would definitely prove to be a handful for me and others like me.

  • Blair

    Blair

    June 8th, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I am sure that transcendental meditation is good. We can probably all agree on that. What concerns me are that these are tough guy soldiers and they may think that TM is a little too kooky for them, know what I mean? How can we trust that they can be open minded enough to even just give it a try? Especillay given that I can’t say that I have ever thought of the military of being the most open minded of professions.

  • DonClements

    DonClements

    June 8th, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    @Blair: if they don’t want to do it voluntarily when asked nicely, then how about a direct order? They can’t refuse that from a senior officer, can they?

    It’s in their own best interests to give TM a shot. If they are smart, they will see that. And hopefully seeing the documented improvement in others would spur them on.

    I feel any soldier suffering from PTSD would be willing to try anything to get some relief from it.

  • Flying Fish

    Flying Fish

    June 9th, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Our soldiers definitely need relief. And if comes in the form of elimination of them having to gulp down dozens of tablets then there couldnt be any unhappy patriot!

  • Laura

    Laura

    June 9th, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    I think if this information of how well it works most anyone would be willing to try.If the science behind how TM stimulates the brain shown thru MRI and PET scans resulting in pleasure and calming centers activation, I think our very intelligent soldiers would be more than willing.Also may make them more effective in crisis situations on battlefield.If this was presented intelligently to military physicians I believe it would be integrated into basic training.Why wait for a problem to start when preventitive measures can be taken.

  • Laura

    Laura

    June 9th, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    My son is a fighter pilot and my nephew received the medal of honor for putting himself in danger to save the lives of others that were not his responsibility.I certainly think that they are intelligent and open minded enough to grasp the benefits of TM . How many of us would risk our lives for a civilian of another country all while fighting to keep our country from being a target?

  • Jackie Hanson

    Jackie Hanson

    June 11th, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Excellent! War veterans aren’t getting the kinds of help they deserve and the help they are getting simply isn’t in good enough supply. These brave men and women go off and fight in wars so you and I don’t have to deal with it ourselves, and when they’re not in the military anymore, the government stops caring. Support the vets and ask your Senator today to explain that and fight for change!

  • John Simmons

    John Simmons

    June 12th, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    So why are we coming out with so many ways to help veterans yet I still hear about how they are by and large being completely ignored? The knowledge is there. Let’s use that to our full advantage and implement programs all over the country about transcendental meditation in VA branches.

  • Shar H.

    Shar H.

    June 12th, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    Meditation is very simple and just about anyone can do it, even children from what I hear. But what’s special about Transcendental Meditation? Is that just a way to make meditation sound more hip?

  • Maxine Morrison

    Maxine Morrison

    June 13th, 2011 at 1:38 AM

    @Shar: It’s actually one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques. Of course, all it does (like all meditations) is help you relax and that’s it. It uses mantras and it also has aspects of religion attached to it as well. Even though the research is limited, it has been shown to have some good to it.

  • nicky cooper

    nicky cooper

    June 15th, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    Actually meditation does more than just help you relax. It’s a way to access your higher consciousness. We have many levels beyond your everyday conscious self. If you ever wish to go upon a journey of spiritual development, meditation opens those doors and is a path to enlightenment if you so choose to study it seriously and with that goal.

    @Maxine, I’m afraid your understanding of its true power is incorrect. For a beginner, yes, the relaxation aspect is there and if it’s all you’ll ever want to explore, you’ll still benefit greatly.

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