Meditation can significantly reduce the effects of PTSD

MeditationFor people suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), here comes a good news: Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique can significantly reduce the stress disorder in flat 10 days. In experiments on Congolese war refugees living in Ugandan camps, researchers found these fascinating results.

'An earlier study found a similar result after 30 days where 90 percent of TM participants dropped to a non-symptomatic level. But we were surprised to see such a significant reduction with this group after just 10 days,' said lead author Colonel Brian Rees from US Army Reserve Medical Corps. (Read: Study shows how yoga, meditation de-stresses you!)

The researchers tested 11 participants after 10-days and 30-days TM practice. After just 10-days, PTSD symptoms dropped almost 30 percent. 'What makes this study interesting is when we tested them in the 90 days before they began the TM technique, their PTSD scores kept going up,' said co-author Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management situated in Iowa, US. (Read: Meditation: A beginner's guide)

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'The Transcendental Meditation technique is increasingly being seen as a viable treatment by the US military,' added Rees. According to the researchers, during this particular meditation technique, one experiences a deep state of restful alertness. Repeated experience of this state for 20 minutes twice a day cultures the nervous system to maintain settled mental and physical functioning the rest of the day. This helps minimise disturbing thoughts, sleep difficulties and other adverse PTSD symptoms, said the study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. (Read: Meditation makes you smarter)

What is PTSD?

Noticed as early as the 19th Century in soldiers and called by various names including battle fatigue, the term was formally recognised by 1980. Simply talking, PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder which affects people who have suffered some sort of traumatic event like a near-death experience, sexual abuse or serious injury. It's a serious mental condition which can be debilitating on many levels.

PTSD is a popular plot device in cinemas. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark often suffered from anxiety attacks which were caused due to the events of the previous film The Avengers when he almost dies while trying to destroy the Chitauri (alien invaders) mothership with a nuclear missile. Even Bruce Wayne as a child and young adult was afraid of bats because of an incident when he was trapped in a well with bats (but being Batman he conquered that fear and even made that symbol to strike fear in others).

How is PTSD diagnosed?

According to psychotherapist Rachel Hercman, one is suffering from the condition only if the symptoms recur for a month. 'The initial symptoms are called Acute Stress Disorder and only if they continue for more than a month is the condition considered PTSD. Not all people who go through a traumatic event develop PTSD, but all those who had PTSD have been through a traumatic event.' There are a standard set of psychological tests to diagnose the condition which includes disturbing flashbacks, avoiding the memories of the event or high anxiety levels. Read more...

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