Transcendental meditation for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Seung Suk Kang, Christopher R. Erbes, Greg J. Lamberty, Paul Thuras, Scott R. Sponheim, Melissa A. Polusny, Amy C. Moran, Abraham C. Van Voorhis, Kelvin O. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

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, selfreport 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-680
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health Services and with resources and the use of facilities at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, MN. We are grateful to Leah Gause and Doris Clancy for their supports of the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • EEG
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psychological assessment
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Veterans

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