Could Transcendental Meditation treat PTSD?

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A new study investigates whether Transcendental Meditation might help reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Photo editing by Stephen Kelly; Brianna R/500px/Getty Images
  • Although most post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments are trauma focused, Transcendental Meditation (TM) offers a more relaxing approach to healing.
  • A new research paper finds a dramatic reduction in PTSD symptoms for individuals practicing TM.
  • Previous research has found that TM can help people manage their response to stress.

A common plot device in fiction finds a character overcoming past traumatic experiences by finally confronting their pain. In real life, recovery is not so simple.

While therapies for people with PTSD typically focus on facing one’s trauma, a new study finds that the restful effects of TM may more readily help people with PTSD heal.

Half of the veterans participating in the study no longer met the criteria for having PTSD after engaging in TM for 3 months, compared with just 10% of those receiving standard trauma-based therapy.

The researchers saw a significant reduction in the participants’ sleep issues and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Dr. Mayer Bellehsen, principal investigator and director of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and their Families at Northwell Health in Bay Shore, NY, says,

“[TM] is a non-trauma-focused, easy-to-learn technique that was found in this study to improve PTSD symptoms, likely through the experience of physical rest.”

The trial was the product of a collaboration among Northwell Health, New York University, and the Maharishi International University (MIU) Research Institute in Fairfield, IA. The results have been published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

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