By Debbie Gregory.
Practicing transcendental meditation may help active-duty soldiers significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study funded by the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness suggests.
By reducing the symptoms, soldiers also can reduce their need for medications, the researchers say.
The study looked at 74 active-duty service members with PTSD or anxiety disorder, often resulting from multiple deployments over multiple years. All 74 participants were being treated at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Half the service members voluntarily practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly in addition to their other therapy. At one month, 83.7 percent of the meditators had stabilized, reduced or stopped their use of psychotropic drugs to treat their conditions. Only 10.9 percent had increased their medication dosage.
The other half of service members who did not meditate saw only a 59.4 percent stabilization rate, while 40.5 percent were taking more medication. By six months into the study, non-meditators had experienced about a 20 percent increase in their symptoms compared with those using the meditation practice.
Transcendental meditation can take those who practice it from a state of active thinking to a level of inner quietness that reduces levels of stress hormones, says study lead author Vernon Barnes, a physiologist with the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
PTSD affects about 13 percent of service members deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. According to the researchers, these prolonged wars have large numbers of active duty and veteran personnel struggling with the emotional aftershocks.
Eisenhower Army Medical Center is among the first to use Transcendental Meditation in active duty personnel, although the practice has been more widely used with veterans.