Meditation Shows Promise in Alleviating Combat-Related PTSD Symptoms

WASHINGTON — Could repeating a mantra and meditating help alleviate symptoms of combat-related PTSD and improve quality of life in veterans suffering from the malady? A new pilot study suggests the answer is “Yes.­­”

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a form of mantra meditation that uses a specific methodology classified as “automatic self-transcending,” according to the study authors. The objective of the study was to obtain pilot data to determine whether the TM technique could help bring relief to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were experiencing PTSD symptoms.

Five veterans from these conflicts completed the small pilot study that involved TM instruction, an eight-week assessment, a data-collection period, and a final check-up at Week 12.

“Overall, over two months there was about a 50% decrease in symptoms,” said Norman Rosenthal, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and director of research at Capital Clinical Research Associates, who was one of the authors of the study. “That is a bit misleading, because four did very well, and one did not do so well. Nobody got worse, and some of them really did great.”

For the study, published in the June issue of Military Medicine, the veterans were asked to meditate at home for 20 minutes twice a day throughout the 12 weeks of treatment. Teachers would meet weekly with each veteran and make contact with the veteran between face-to-face meetings to make sure the participants were adhering to the treatment.

Those who practiced TM showed improvement on the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale at eight weeks. All subjects reported improvements on the Quality of Life and Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire. As for the Beck Depression Inventory, three of the subjects improved significantly, while one was slightly worse at Week 8, relative to the baseline. Four of the subjects were rated as either much or very much improved on the Clinical Global Impression Improvement scales at Week 8, and one was rated as unchanged.

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