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TM Study: PTSD

Transcendental meditation for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Objective: Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mental technique using a mantra to facilitate meditation. TM has a potential for treating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but its clinical efficacy remains to be clarified. This pilot study evaluated the acceptability, preliminary effectiveness, and neurophysiology of TM for veterans with PTSD.

Method: Twenty-nine veterans (20.7% female) were recruited from a major medical center and enrolled in the study. TM instruction was provided by certified TM teachers from the Maharishi Foundation and consisted of 8 weeks of individual and group-based meditation instruction and practice. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, during treatment, posttreatment, and at 2-month follow-up, and included clinical interviews, self-report questionnaires, and electroencephalography (EEG) recorded during resting and meditation states.

Results: From baseline to posttreatment, participants reported reductions in PTSD symptoms, experiential avoidance, and depressive and somatic symptoms, as well as increases on measures of mindfulness and quality of life. Gains were either maintained or continued to improve through the 2-month follow-up. Compared to baseline, EEG spectral power increased in low-frequency bands (1–7 Hz) at posttreatment and follow-up and only during meditation states suggesting TM-specific changes in brain state associated with the intervention.

Conclusions: TM appears to be an acceptable and effective treatment for veterans with PTSD that warrants further study regarding specific outcomes and beneficial changes in brain function. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Clinical Impact Statement—We evaluated preliminary estimates of the strength and durability of treatment effects of TM on PTSD in veterans, assessing symptoms, mindfulness, acceptance of TM by veterans, and brain activities measured by EEG. Eight weeks of TM intervention was well accepted in most veterans, showing high completion rate (79%). Following TM practice, veterans with PTSD showed improvements in PTSD symptoms and mindfulness as well as increased low-frequency (1–7 Hz) EEG power that might reflect enhanced cognitive controls and internally directed attention in participants. These improvements were either maintained or continued to improve through the 2-month follow-up. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

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