Nav: Home

Veterans who learn Transcendental Meditation find relief from PTSD, new study shows

January 12, 2018

Veterans of the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, 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 (TM) technique, according to a new study published in Military Medicine.

The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD, as measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-5). After one month, 87% had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants (80%) had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level, meaning that they were no longer considered to have a disorder.

The effect size, which is a measure of the magnitude of a treatment, was 1.91. This is unusually high, with a value of .8 considered to be a strong effect. In addition, the very low p-value (p < 0.0001) indicates these results were probably not due to chance. The study included a 90-day posttest; PTSD symptoms continued to improve.

"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," said lead author Robert Herron.

More effective than standard treatment

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.

"Transcendental Meditation is very easy to do and results come quickly," said James Grant, Director of Programs for TM for Veterans, which provided partial funding for this study. "TM promotes self sufficiency - it's a tool that the veteran can use for life, on his or her own."

In addition, research has shown that Transcendental Meditation has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.

"Because it works on the neurophysiological level to reduce stress, it has broader impact than cognitively-based therapies," he said.

Veterans able to help themselves

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 lead author Robert Herron. "After learning about the opportunity to participate in the study, they went to local Transcendental Meditation centers to be instructed in the practice."

Dr. Herron said that because of their huge caseload, the Veterans Administration hasn't been able to help all veterans in a timely manner. And veterans are often in desperate need of help.

"The veterans involved were pleased that they were able to do this on their own, and no doubt the VA hospitals appreciate that there are therapeutic approaches that can be undertaken without the costly intensive care of a therapist that treatment typically entails," he said.

Dr. Grant said some veterans are reluctant to go to counseling because of the perceived stigma, but that there's no stigma associated with meditation, which is widely practiced by healthy people.

Practiced 20 minutes twice a day

The participants learned the standard Transcendental Meditation technique, which is practiced 20 minutes twice a day. The study found that the veterans who practiced twice a day as recommended had greater benefits than those who practiced once a day.

This approach to meditation, which was introduced in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi beginning in the late 1950s, has been widely researched over the past 50 years, with over 400 peer-reviewed studies. It is unique in that it doesn't entail contemplation or concentration and is easy to learn and effortless to practice.

"Researchers have been calling for new approaches to PTSD treatments, and Transcendental Meditation seems to be particularly effective," Dr. Grant said. "Veterans who elect to learn Transcendental Meditation themselves can find significant reductions in PTSD. The results are promising and suggest that this is a treatment modality that deserves more rigorous study as a potential treatment for PTSD."

DoD supports research on TM

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, MD, coauthor of the current study. Dr. Rees was the lead researcher on two earlier studies on Congolese refugees suffering from PTSD, and found a significant benefit after just 10 days of TM practice.

Watch a video conference held at the US Institute of Peace on Dec 2016, Exploring the Science of Meditation on Trauma, Stress, and the Brain: Military Panel, where leading experts in the field of military and veteran health discussed the benefits of utilizing TM in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.
-end-
Funding for veterans to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in this study was provided by Christopher H. Wege and the Wege Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

To hear veterans talk about the effect that practicing TM had on their lives, watch this video, Real PTS Relief for our Veterans, made by the David Lynch Foundation.

Maharishi University of Management

Related Stress Articles:

Captive meerkats at risk of stress
Small groups of meerkats -- such as those commonly seen in zoos and safari parks -- are at greater risk of chronic stress, new research suggests.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away
Eating three to four servings of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, new research by University of Sydney scholars reveals.
Prebiotics may help to cope with stress
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood.
Building stress-resistant memories
Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event, and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.
Stress during pregnancy
The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health.
New insights into how the brain adapts to stress
New research led by the University of Bristol has found that genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioural adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.
Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain
Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked.
Stress could help activate brown fat
Mild stress stimulates the activity and heat production by brown fat associated with raised cortisol, according to a study published today in Experimental Physiology.
Experiencing major stress makes some older adults better able to handle daily stress
Dealing with a major stressful event appears to make some older adults better able to cope with the ups and downs of day-to-day stress.

Related Stress Reading:

The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity
by Melanie Greenberg PhD (Author)

“For people suffering from stress, this book is a godsend.”
Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion

"Highly recommended for mental health professionals and consumer health readers looking to manage stress."
Library Journal (starred review)


Modern times are stressful—and it’s killing us. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid the things that stress us out, but we can change how we respond to them. In this breakthrough book, a clinical psychologist and neuroscience expert offers an original approach to... View Details


Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans: An Easy to Follow, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Chicken Tractors.
by John Suscovich (Author)

Inside these pages, you will find step-by-step instructions for a mobile broiler chicken shelter for pastured poultry that is used by farmers and homesteaders all over the country.

Raising chickens on grass provides them with a healthy lifestyle and a delicious flavor. You can raise just enough of them to feed your family or scale up to include pastured poultry as a profitable part of your farm business. John Suscovich has raised thousands of chickens using these mobile shelters, a main enterprise on his farm in Connecticut.

These chicken tractors were created using the best... View Details


The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
by Martha Davis (Author), Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman (Author), Matthew McKay (Author)

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook broke new ground when it was first published in 1980, detailing easy, step-by-step techniques for calming the body and mind in an increasingly overstimulated world. Now in its sixth edition, this workbook, highly regarded by therapists and their clients, remains the go-to source for stress reduction strategies that can be incorporated into even the busiest lives.

This new edition is updated with powerful relaxation techniques based on the latest research, and draws from a variety of proven treatment methods, including progressive... View Details


The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It
by Kelly McGonigal (Author)

Drawing from groundbreaking research, psychologist and award-winning teacher Kelly McGonigal, PhD, offers a surprising new view of stress—one that reveals the upside of stress, and shows us exactly how to capitalize on its benefits.

You hear it all the time: stress causes heart disease; stress causes insomnia; stress is bad for you! But what if changing how you think about stress could make you happier, healthier, and better able to reach your goals? Combining exciting new research on resilience and mindset, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, proves that undergoing stress is not bad for... View Details


The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living
by Amit Sood (Author), Mayo Clinic (Author)

Have you ever driven several miles without noticing anything on the road, or read a page in a book without registering any of it? Do the day's worries and disappointments crowd your mind as you're trying to fall asleep at night? Do you feel stressed much of the time and aren't sure how to find peace? In this book, Amit Sood, M.D., M.Sc., a Mayo Clinic specialist in stress and resiliency, reveals how the mind's instinctive restlessness and shortsightedness generate stress and anxiety and presents strategies for living a more peaceful life. The book is based on the highly popular stress... View Details


Stress: 17 Stress Management Habits to Reduce Stress, Live Stress-Free & Worry Less
by Linda Westwood (Author)

Struggling With Stress? Discover 17 LIFE-CHANGING Habits That WILL Relax Your Worries, Calm You Down, & Keep You Happy!

From the Best Selling health & fitness author, Linda Westwood, comes Stress: 17 Stress Management Habits to Reduce Stress, Live Stress-Free & Worry Less! This book will jump-start your mood, reduce your stress, increase your energy levels, clear your mind, and improve your overall health!

Our lives are full of regular habits that we live by every day, and these habits determine who we are, as a result. That's where these stress... View Details


Stress Management for Life: A Research-Based Experiential Approach
by Michael Olpin (Author), Margie Hesson (Author)

Clearly explaining the "how to" of stress management and prevention, STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR LIFE, 4e emphasizes experiential learning and encourages readers to personalize text information through practical applications and a "tool box" of stress-reducing resources, including activities and online stress-relief audio files. Michael Olpin and Margie Hesson offer more than just a book about stress; they offer readers a life-changing experience. Well-researched and engaging, the book empowers students to experience personal wellness by understanding and managing stress, gives stress-related... View Details


Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being
by Brian Luke Seaward (Author)

Revised, updated and reorganized, Managing Stress: Principles & Strategies for Health and Well-Being Eighth Edition, provides a comprehensive approach to stress management honoring the integration, balance, and harmony of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. The holistic approach taken by internationally acclaimed lecturer and author Brian Luke Seaward gently guides the reader to greater levels of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being by emphasizing the importance of mind-body-spirit unity. Referred to as the "authority on stress management" by students and professionals, this... View Details


Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
by James L. Wilson (Author), Jonathan V Wright (Foreword)

This is an incredibly informative and reader-friendly book about a common debilitating medical condition that goes largely undiagnosed and untreated. ADRENAL FATIGUE: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome is a very empowering work cram-packed with vital information about a condition that very likely affects millions of people. View Details


The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain
by Don Joseph Goewey (Author)

We all know that stress is serious. If ignored too long, it becomes life-threateningly serious. Yet 83 percent of Americans are doing nothing about it. Don’t be one of them. There’s now a solution to stress that literally rewires your brain for a life of doing well, and being well, on your way to flourishing.

The most important brain discovery in the last 400 years concerns a simple but powerful shift in attitude that can change a brain wired for stress into a brain powered for success. This specific shift literally rewires the brain to deliver the full measure of intelligence,... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Big Five
What are the five biggest global challenges we face right now — and what can we do about them? This hour, TED speakers explore some radical solutions to these enduring problems. Guests include geoengineer Tim Kruger, president of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband, political scientist Ian Bremmer, global data analyst Sarah Menker, and historian Rutger Bregman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#456 Inside a Conservation NGO
This week we take a close look at conservation NGOS: what they do, how they work, and - most importantly - why we need them. We'll be speaking with Shyla Raghav, the Climate Change Lead at Conservation International, about using strategy and policy to tackle climate change. Then we'll speak with Rebecca Shaw, Lead Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, about how and why you should get involved with conservation initiatives.