Veterans of the wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found significant relief from their symptoms as a result of practicing the Transcendental Meditation®technique, according to a new study led by MUM alumnus Robert Herron and published recently in Military Medicine.
The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD. After one month, 87 percent had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level for PTSD.
“It’s remarkable that after just one month we would see such a pronounced decrease in symptoms, with four out of five veterans no longer considered to have a serious problem with PTSD,” Dr. Herron said.
By way of comparison the standard treatment, which entails veterans attending counseling and re-experiencing their trauma as part of the therapy, is typically only partially successful, with approximately two-thirds still suffering from PTSD after being treated.
In addition, research has shown that the Transcendental Meditation program has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.
An interesting facet of the study was that the veterans were recruited through media advertising rather than through a veterans hospital.
“The importance of this study is that it shows that veterans are able to help themselves,” said Dr. Herron. “After learning about the opportunity to participate in the study, they went to local Transcendental Meditation centers to be instructed in the practice.”
The current study follows four previous studies on veterans that suggested a benefit for PTSD. Because of these promising findings, the U.S. Department of Defense has supported a randomized controlled trial involving 210 veterans that is now nearing completion.
“The evidence is mounting that Transcendental Meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD,” said Colonel Brian Rees, M.D., coauthor of the current study.
Funding for veterans to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in this study was provided by the Wege Foundation, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and by the Maharishi Foundation.
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