Norman Rosenthal, M.D. (Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical School): Over half a million of our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These are people who have been exposed to violence on the battlefield serving for our country. And, as one of my patients said, it can happen once in your life but a hundred times in your mind. The echos linger on.
Sarina Grosswald, Ed.D. (Cognitive Learning Specialist): With traumatic stress it’s really some enormous stress that’s more than the body can process, and it leaves a big impression on your brain. The estimates are that at least 30% of returning veterans are experiencing PTSD and really the estimates are that it’s probably much greater than that. I think that maybe as many as 50% who are experiencing these symptoms aren’t actually even seeking help.
Dr. Rosenthal: They get bombarded on a daily basis by memories and flashbacks and it’s a shocking statistic that 18 veterans every day commit suicide.
Dr. Grosswald: We’ve lost more to suicide than actually have been lost in combat. That’s the first time ever.
Dr. Rosenthal: One thing that we who are interested in Transcendental Meditation are seeking is could TM be one of the answers or one of the ways in which we can treat PTSD?
Dr. Grosswald: We put together a pilot study with returning veterans from the OEF-OIF war, which is the Iraq/Afghanistan war, and what we saw was for these young men there was, within 4 weeks, a 50% reduction in the PTSD symptoms. That’s pretty dramatic, I don’t think there’s anything that shows that level of response that quickly.
Dr. Rosenthal: Because of TM’s ability to settle down the nervous system, to quiet it down, to slow down the fight-or-flight response, I believe it is a very promising direction for us to explore. I think it’s definitely something we should be trying and testing and studying.