Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Mark Newman: Courier: Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication

July 30, 2012

Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication

July 30, 2012

MARK NEWMAN Courier Staff Writer

War veteran Luke Jensen from Colo, Iowa, speaks with audience members after taking part in a presentation on post traumatic stress disorder Saturday in Fairfield. A civilian police officer and SWAT team member when his Army Reserve unit was deployed, Jensen thought he was too tough to suffer PTSD. Mark Newman/The Courier

FAIRFIELD — Military police sergeants, civilian police officers and SWAT team members are all supposed to be tough. Luke Jensen was all three, so when the stress of combat began eating away at him, he felt so ashamed, he wanted to die.

Meditation helped correct that desire — and he believes it could help other soldiers and veterans.

Jensen was asked by Operation Warrior Wellness to speak about his experiences with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a presentation Saturday on PTSD, the military and the advantages of Transcendental Meditation.

“The medical [tents] in Afghanistan were for 10th Mountain Division soldiers who’d been wounded in combat,” said the Nevada, Iowa man.

How could he possibly walk into that tent and tell a medic that he was sad?

He told the Fairfield audience that his base was hit their first night there. Gunshots, explosions and outgoing fire were nearly constant. And the things he saw around him were worse than he felt he could handle.

He couldn’t sleep, he was having panic attacks and in addition to worrying about himself, the staff sergeant had his men to lead.

“I thought I was tough,” he said.

But in a combat zone, his world was out of control. When sent to investigate a report of a little Afghani girl struck by a U.S. vehicle, he found the child dead near the road.

The upset family came to claim her. Jensen contacted the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division then kept people from walking onto the death scene. He had no translator. The locals were getting angrier and more numerous, not understanding why this armed foreigner would want to keep the girl’s body from her family.

Later, someone — Jensen never found out who — ran over and killed a nearby U.S. serviceman.

His nerves couldn’t handle any more. As soon as he was able, he decided to take his sidearm and shoot himself dead. When health personnel he’d sought out heard about his attempt, he was evacuated — which made him feel as though he’d failed in his duty.

At least he could move on with his life. So why did he keep thinking the most logical step would be to take his own life — even when back in the U.S.? He still couldn’t sleep. He still had panic attacks. And he felt a deep sense of shame — especially because while on a U.S. base receiving medical care, he saw the other soldiers who had “real” injuries.

Dr. Fred Travis, a psychologist in Fairfield, said PTSD produces an injury as real as any wound. Travis is the director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management.

CAT scans of patients suffering from PTSD, he said, provide evidence that the brains of sufferers are different from those without PTSD. The effect is physical.

But Jensen didn’t know his brain was short circuited. He was taking medication for depression and anxiety, back in Iowa working in law enforcement. He still wanted to die.

When his police supervisors heard he was suicidal, they began proceedings to terminate him.

“Jerry Yellin saved my life,” Jensen said.

Yellin was a World War II fighter pilot who went undiagnosed with PTSD for 30 years. Transcendental Meditation was what helped him find relaxation and peace. When he heard about the young soldier, he called him.

Yellin got support from MUM and the David Lynch Foundation in order to provide a sort of “scholarship” for Staff Sgt. Jensen and his wife to learn TM.

Jensen thought it’d be worth a try. He had recently made a suicide threat, loaded gun to his head in front of his wife and five-year-old daughter.

The trip to Fairfield was worth it, he said. He learned to find quiet in his mind, which allowed him to relax peacefully for the first time in a long time, he said.

Dr. Travis said what appears to be happening with PTSD is that in a combat zone, the mind naturally must be super vigilant. One needs to be able to see every danger, lock that sound or sight into the memory — and avoid it.

With PTSD, every similar noise or sight becomes a life-or-death situation. Memories of danger are “locked” into the brain. Worse, parts of the mind are “short circuited” so that while the “problem-seeing” part of the brain is stuck in the “on” position, the “problem-solving” part of the brain is off. Desperation develops when all you see are problems — problems with no solution.

By meditating, TM practitioners are trained to go around that damaged part of the brain, Yellin said.

Travis said CAT scans show that, too. There is more blood flow to the frontal lobes and the portion of the brain that is generally considered to be “in charge.”

In a video about their situation, Jensen’s wife said TM saved her husband’s life. Yellin wants more soldiers to have that opportunity, and is working with the David Lynch Foundation as co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness.

Like other parts of the body, the brain responds to exercise, becoming more resilient.

“If your frontal lobes are more developed, we believe you will be better able to deal with stressful situations,” said Travis.

Presenters said practitioners of meditation are also better able to separate the quiet of inner peace from traumatic situations in the outside world. The military is starting to take notice, as is the Veterans Administration.

Chris Busch, director of programs for the David Lynch Foundation, said the VA has commissioned two large studies to see if TM really shows results.

TM is not a replacement for traditional medicine, he said. It can be, however, one of the options doctors offer mental health patients on their way to recovery.

Yellin said Saturday’s event was the start to an effort to provide scholarships every veteran who needs TM.

For more information, visit www.operationwarriorwellness.org.

Also published in Journal Express of CNHI/SE Iowa.

Other news coverage: KTVO News: How one soldier regained his life with help from WWII veteran and TM for PTSD and WHO TV 13: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds  |  Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |  Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday  |  KTVO: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness | TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness

July 10, 2012

Healing the Hidden Wounds of War, an open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the David Lynch Foundation, in Fairfield, Iowa.

Veterans are overcoming PTSD through meditation and reclaiming their lives. Meditation Saves A Veteran From Suicide is a video of Iowa veteran Luke Jensen describing his experiences in Afghanistan, how he tried to deal with his PTSD, and what finally worked for him.

After reading about Luke’s situation in a Des Moines Register article: Former undercover cop, MP battles PTSD: How Afghanistan service affected one soldier, Jerry Yellin, co-director for Operation Warrior Wellness, reached out to Luke and offered him a scholarship from the David Lynch Foundation to learn Transcendental Meditation.

As a result of learning to meditate, and the relief it brought him and his wife, Abi, Luke wanted to join Jerry in making this program available to other Iowa veterans and their families suffering from PTSD. They are organizing a special open forum, Healing the Hidden Wounds of War, to take place Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 2 pm in the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center in Fairfield, Iowa.

Iowa veterans can find relief from combat-induced stress and escape the self-destructive cycle of drugs, alcohol, and depression. To learn more, or to register, visit http://operationwarriorwellness.org/iowa.

Uploaded by on Jul 10, 2012

Some excerpts from the video:

“The first week I was there three soldiers got killed there….I was certain I wasn’t going to make it back home and I started thinking about suicide. I felt I was going to die anyway, so why be miserable day after day when it’s going to happen? I was just certain it was going to happen….I tried five or six different kinds of depression medicine, two or three different kinds of anxiety medicines. When I continued to try and try and try and things weren’t helping, hopelessness really was taking over and I still continued to think almost daily that suicide was going to be the option.”

In 2011, Luke Jensen learned the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique – a stress reducing practice, proven to combat the effects of PTSD.

“For the first time in I don’t know how long I felt hope….I don’t take anxiety medicine at all anymore….It’s made me a better father, a better husband. I’d consistently thought about suicide before I learned TM. It was the first thing to kind of get that away and get that off my mind. It changed everything.”

To support the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness program: http://www.operationwarriorwellness.org/how-to-help

Operation Warrior Wellness has been championed since 2010 by a coalition of meditating veterans spanning four wars. Their mission is to deliver rapid and profound relief to veterans and active-duty military suffering from PTSD, promote resiliency among military personnel and cadets, and provide much needed support to military families serving the rewarding but often taxing job of caring for their loved ones.

See this KTVO News report: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD.

A few related articles: POLITICO: Coping with PTSD  |  Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic] Transcendental Meditation Drastically Turns Life Around For Veteran With PTSD  |  Star Tribune: Meditation brings peace to war vets  |  Ruben Rosario: Recovered veteran’s latest mission: helping those like him

Here is a wonderful  interview with Jerry Yellin and Lisa Cypers Kamen of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio July 18th. You can listen online to Jerry Yellin, Operation Warrior Wellness and Debbie Gregory, Military Connection or download the the podcast.

Star Tribune: Meditation brings peace to war vets

May 17, 2012

Meditation brings peace to war vets

May 16, 2012 | Lifestyle | Star Tribune | Kristin Tillotson

Transcendental meditation has its detractors, but many veterans say it helps them with post-war stress.

Fernando Franco, who served in both Bosnia and Iraq, uses meditation techniques to control stress. — Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Like many veterans, Fernando A. Franco had trouble sleeping through the night.

A major in the Minnesota National Guard, he was deployed twice between 2003 and 2007, once to Bosnia and once to Iraq, with barely six months’ break in between. The place where he was stationed near Balad, Iraq, was nicknamed “Mortaritaville” because “we were attacked every day,” he said.

After Franco got back home to St. Paul, he was hard-wired to wake up at 3 every morning, the same hour that in Mortaritaville he and his fellow soldiers would start hearing the shells aimed their way and brace for battle. Once he woke up, he’d stay up, living in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

“It really affected not only my work, but my relationship with my wife and kids,” he said. Then he heard about TM.

Transcendental meditation, or TM for short, is hailed by its devotees as good for just about anything that ails you. Skeptics call it everything from a bunch of hooey to a brainwashing cult, but those who do it daily claim they feel calmer, have more energy and feel healthier, both mentally and physically, than they used to. It’s not a religion, they say, just a practice that reduces anxiety and improves well-being.

Now the U.S. military — not known for embracing the mystical — has taken note. The Department of Veterans Affairs has invested $5 million in a dozen trial programs studying TM’s effects on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including one at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

The VA hopes to recruit 30 vets for the trial beginning in about a month, said spokesman Ralph Huessner, noting that it should not be confused with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a different meditation program already offered.

‘A part of the universe’

Franco, 49, works in human resources for Target Corp. No matter how busy he gets, he always takes 20 minutes twice a day, at about the same time every day, to meditate, using the discipline he learned as a soldier to strictly maintain his schedule.

“The only way to get the full benefit is to do it morning and afternoon, no matter what,” he said, “even if you have to do it standing up in a bathroom stall.”

TM practitioners call the state they go into one of “restful alertness.” Transcendence is achieved, they say, by repeating a mantra and emptying the mind. So how does it feel?

“There is a moment when you go into a void, an emptiness, and you feel a part of the universe,” Franco said. “It’s like in the movie ‘Avatar’ when the creature says they are a part of everything. That’s how I would explain it.”

He first heard about TM for veterans through Operation Warrior Wellness, an initiative launched last year by the foundation run by film director and TM advocate David Lynch.

“I’m Roman Catholic, but I’m very open-minded about Eastern philosophies,” Franco said.

In October, he attended training classes at the TM center in St. Paul. Six months later, he usually sleeps through the night and has passed his enthusiasm for TM along to his 15-year-old son.

“When you come back from war, where you’ve learned to shut down your emotions, you have to relearn how to be with your family,” he said. “It helps you not only to reconnect with yourself, but other people. I’ve also noticed I’m able to concentrate better.”

Some critics of the TM movement have accused it of being a religion, of amassing wealth for its leaders, and of brainwashing. Franco, who learned TM through a scholarship from Operation Warrior Wellness, said he’s seen none of that.

“I have never felt coerced into making this a religious path, and have encountered people of all faiths  who do it,” he said. “I have never been asked to make a donation.”

Although Franco said he does not have PTSD, he thinks meditation could help veterans who do.

“It’s different for everyone, and you still might need counseling and pills, but TM is one of the best tools for stress out there,” he said.

The draw of Oprah’s blessing

Long, white and stately, the local Peace Palace — which is what the international TM network calls its specially constructed education centers — sits just off a freeway frontage road on the eastern edge of St. Paul. Next door to an insurance office and a hop and a skip from Culver’s, the Maharishi Invincibility Center is hard to miss, an Eastern architectural presence in Midwestern suburbia.

At a recent open house, center director Billie Jean Billman led visitors on a tour. Since Oprah aired a special extolling the virtues of TM in April, Billman said, there has been a spike in interest. The center recently doubled its instructors from two to four.

“TM is not a panacea for everything, but it’s a non-pharmacological process that wakes up the body and the brain,” Billman said.

Two veterans who recently started TM, Sarah Ditto and Pat Watson, were also on hand to describe the benefits they’ve experienced.

“I was amazed at how completely calm I felt,” said Watson, 54. “It’s like pancake batter spreading across a griddle, slowly turning golden brown. You really are resting but awake. After I meditate, people ask me what I’ve been doing.”

“I was really energized after the first time I did it,” said Ditto, 25, who works with disabled veterans at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living in St. Paul. “I went home and did a bunch of yard work. It’s helped me to focus better, too.”

Ditto likes to visit the center to do her meditating because its minimally decorated rooms are ideal for it. But, she says, she sometimes encounters a problem.

“I meditate facing Culver’s, and instead of my mantra I start saying in my head, Chocolate custard. Chocolate custard. Chocolate custard.”

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046

For more information visit these websites:

www.tm.org and www.operationwarriorwellness.org.

Related articles: Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSDPOLITICO: Coping with PTSD | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | Transcendental Meditation Drastically Turns Life Around For Veteran With PTSD | David Lynch gives $1M to teach vets meditation | David Lynch donates $1 million in grants through his foundation to teach veterans to meditate | Replay of David Lynch Foundation Launch of Operation Warrior Wellness Los Angeles | Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic]

POLITICO: Coping with PTSD

May 4, 2012
Opinion Contributor
Coping with PTSD

More than 500,000 returning veterans suffer from psychological injuries, the author said. | AP Photo

By RICHARD W. SCHNEIDER | 5/3/12 9:24 AM EDT

Developing military leaders who are smart, strong and courageous — both on and off of the battlefield — is essential. We are still learning how to create soldiers prepared for the emotional wounds of war. We need to teach coping skills to help these men and women reduce the terrible effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans, who have experienced the horrors of war, are the most common sufferers. More than 500,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological injuries — including PTSD or major depression.

But even military cadets, when in a highly disciplined and rigorous academic environment, can feel similarly overwhelmed. Under intense stress, many men and women just give up. They don’t have the tools to stay focused and grounded.

We must give them the tools they need. This means helping them to be successful socially, emotionally and in a military setting. Our future leaders need this knowledge.

Transcendental Meditation has demonstrated an ability to help those suffering from PTSD and high stress environments. Recent trials of TM’s effects on psychological distress have revealed: reduced perceived stress, improved constructive thinking, decreased state anxiety, increased behavioral coping and reduced depression. This is the focus of the David Lynch Foundation, which highlights TM’s positive effects.

TM helps military cadets become more resilient, according to Norwich University studies, so that they can be better soldiers on the battlefield as well as better equipped to recover from the traumas of war and have a normal life after returning home.

Evidence suggests that TM may help people handle the stresses that come before as well as during military service and when they return to civilian life.

A 2011 Norwich University study, with funding from the David Lynch Foundation and the Educational Foundation of America, showed the positive effects that TM can have on helping students cope with the stresses of leadership in being a member of the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. TM has proven to be a highly effective coping strategy and has set a high bar to further explorations and research.

Many cadets who enter the military will likely be exposed to trauma that can have a destructive effect on their lives and the lives of their families. Whether a veteran or a military cadet, the method of dealing with PTSD is crucial.

For these “invisible wounds” can take a high toll — on family, quality of life and work performance. There is also a greater risk for violent and self-destructive behavior.

Effective treatments have been difficult to identify. Many expensive combinations of chemicals, for example, have been explored. But TM is an evidence-based technique that is available anywhere and at any time. Those who practice it develop the ability to improve daily stresses in the workplace and in life.

The technique helps address anxiety, mood change and situational awareness. Its powerful impact can produce long-term results in improving daily lives.

The goal is clear: to develop the whole person with maximized abilities and capacity in all situations.

Richard W. Schneider, a rear admiral USCGR (Ret.) is the president of Norwich University. The David Lynch Foundation on Thursday is hosting its first annual National Summit, investigating effects of Transcendental Meditation on active-duty personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD, cadets in training — and their families.

Short URL: http://politi.co/JPLv7Z

Related articles: Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD

PsychCentral reviews Norman Rosenthal’s book Transcendence: Transcendental Meditation: What Is It and How Does It Work?

September 16, 2011

Transcendental Meditation: What Is It and How Does It Work?

By Therese Borchard

Transcendental Meditation: What Is It and How Does It Work?Being that my job is to feature and review books on psychology, spirituality, and especially the intersection between the two, I receive my share of books on meditation. And as a person who has been trying to meditate for two years, but who just can’t seem to get the hang of it, I always open the cover a tad sinister, looking for a magic bullet.

The book Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation was on my decline stack until I read the short bio on Norman Rosenthal, M.D. and became intrigued. He’s a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School. He conducted research at the National Institute of Mental Health. And he was the one who first described and diagnosed seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Ironically, I knew of him through my good friend Michelle, who had been one of the case studies for him on SAD.

So, with those credentials I opened the book and began to read stories that inspired me and gave me hope that one day I might be a meditator too.

Rosenthal won my trust in that he clearly states in the introduction that Transcendental Meditation is not a stand-alone treatment for emotional disorders, especially when effective treatments are available and work (if not full proof). He writes, “The fact is that no single treatment works every time for any given set of symptoms. We often have to try several different medications or treatment approaches before we find the right mix. I am suggesting that TM should be part of that mix, especially when conventional approaches prove unsatisfactory.” Rosenthal would in no way advise a person to go off his meds and try this type of meditation. However, he believes that practicing it can be the difference between a life of coping and a life of living.

Before reading Rosenthal’s book, I was unaware of the ways different kinds of meditations activate neurons in distinct regions of the brain. For example, Mindful Meditation increases the activity of neurons not only in certain emotional areas of the brain, but also in frontal regions, which are responsible for decision making and other functions. In Transcendental Meditation, there is a more global effect. Characteristic brain wave patterns are seen in many different parts of the brain, so the meditator has a better chance of experiencing the effects of meditation long past the meditation session.

What, exactly, is this Transcendental Meditation? Rosenthal writes:

Transcendental Meditation is always taught one-on-one, at least initially, by a teacher who is a longtime meditator trained not only to instruct new students and provide follow-up, but also to customize the approach for each student. Initial instruction has seven steps: two lectures and a personal interview with a certified teacher, then four teaching sessions on four consecutive days. Each session lasts about ninety minutes. Ideally, the fledgling meditator then follows up with the teacher, perhaps weekly for the first month and monthly thereafter. These thirty-minute “checking” sessions give students a chance to ask questions and make sure their technique is still on track, so they will derive the maximum benefit.

Basically, TM is a nonreligious practice that involves sitting comfortably for twenty minutes twice a day, while using a silent mantra, or nonverbal sound, to attain a profound state of aware relaxation. And just like yoga or martial arts, says Rosenthal, in order to learn it correctly, you need ongoing guidance with a teacher.

A profound gift of TM is that regular practice increases brain wave coherence, meaning that the frequencies of brain waves in different parts of the brain work together as a result of TM. In seasoned meditators, brain wave coherence can be found throughout the day, not only during meditation. Electroencephalograms (EEG) indicate that TM calms the brain while organizing the prefrontal brain regions so that meditators can improve their focus, decision-making, and job performance.

Especially enlightening to me were Rosenthal’s chapters on how TM can help treat acute anxiety, major depression, and bipolar disorder. This psychiatrist and some of his colleagues obtained a grant to study TM in a group of bipolar patients. In the study, eleven people received immediate TM training, while fourteen people were placed on a wait list. Both groups continued with their previous medical treatments. A few from the TM group reported a drop in manic symptoms, however, depressive symptoms were especially relieved, as stated in the patient reports but also upon inspecting the results of TM by Rosenthal and his team. Explains Rosenthal:

Several patients reported increased calmness, improved focus, and improved ability to stay organized and set priorities–no surprise, given TM’s known effects on the prefrontal cortex. TM helped bipolar patients improve their executive function, just as it did for people with anxiety disorders and ADHD… All in all … our study study suggests that TM might be very helpful for bipolar patients. In fact, all the clinicians who worked on the study are now referring certain of their bipolar patients, particularly those with residual depression, for TM training–along with their other treatments.

Check out Rosenthal’s book, Transcendence, for more information on the science and benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

Therese J. Borchard is Associate Editor at Psych Central, where she regularly contributes to World of Psychology. She also writes the daily blog, Beyond Blue, on

Beliefnet.com. Therese is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist. Subscribe to her RSS feed on Psych Central or Beliefnet. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @thereseborchard.

APA Reference
Borchard, T. (2011). Transcendental Meditation: What Is It and How Does It Work?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2011, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/transcendental-meditation-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work/

Scientifically Reviewed
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jul 2011
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

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Also listen to an excellent interview with Norman Rosenthal and Jenny Crwys-Williams on South Africa’s 702 Talk Radio. Click to download Podcast. It’s mentioned in this post: Meditation for Health, Happiness and Spirituality.

TM Reduces Veterans PTSD Symptoms by 50%

June 1, 2011

Veterans Show a 50% Reduction in PTSD Symptoms
After 8 Weeks of Transcendental Meditation

WASHINGTON | Wed, June 1, 2011, 9:00am EDT

Veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars showed a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after just eight weeks of practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a pilot study published in the June 2011 issue of Military Medicine (Volume 176, Number 6).

The study evaluated five veterans, ages 25- to 40-years-old, who had served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both from 10 months to two years involving moderate or heavy moderate combat.

The study found that Transcendental Meditation produced significant reductions in stress and depression, and marked improvements in relationships and overall quality of life. Furthermore, the authors reported that the technique was easy to perform and was well accepted by the veterans.

The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) was the primary measure for assessing the effectiveness of TM practice on PTSD symptoms. CAPS is considered by the Department of Veterans Affairs as the “gold standard” for PTSD assessment and diagnosis for both military Veteran and civilian trauma survivors.

The paper’s senior researcher, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and director of research at Capital Clinical Research Associates in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Rosenthal was the first to describe seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment.

“Even though the number of veterans in this study was small, the results were very impressive,” Rosenthal said. “These young men were in extreme distress as a direct result of trauma suffered during combat, and the simple and effortless Transcendental Meditation technique literally transformed their lives.”

The findings were similar to those from a randomized controlled study of Vietnam veterans conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In that study, published in the Journal of Counseling and Development in 1985, after three months of twice-daily TM practice, the veterans had fewer symptoms than those receiving   conventional psychotherapy of the day.  In fact, most of the TM-treated subjects required no further treatment.

“Even though the combat experiences of OEF/OIF veterans and Vietnam veterans are quite different, the fact that our study corroborates the results of the previous study tells us that this technique has the potential to be an effective tool against PTSD and combat stress, regardless of combat situation,” explained Sarina Grosswald, EdD, co-researcher on the study.

Rosenthal hypothesizes that Transcendental Meditation helps people with PTSD because regular practice produces long-term changes in sympathetic nervous system activity, as evidenced by decreased blood pressure, and lower reactivity to stress. “Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the ‘fight-or-flight’ response,” he said.  People with PTSD show overactive fight-or-flight responses, making them excellent candidates for Transcendental Meditation.

Rosenthal points out that there is an urgent need to find effective and cost-effective treatments for veterans with combat-related PTSD. “The condition is common, affecting an estimated one in seven deployed soldiers and Marines, most of whom do not get adequate treatment.  So far, only one treatment—simulation exposure to battleground scenes—has been deemed effective, but it requires specialized software and hardware, trained personnel and is labor intensive.

“Based on our study and previous findings, I believe Transcendental Meditation certainly warrants further study for combat-related PTSD,” says Rosenthal.

Rosenthal is the author of a new book, “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation,” which will be released by Tarcher Penguin on June 2, 2011. For those wanting to interview Dr. Rosenthal, contact his publicist, Dean Draznin Communications, Inc., 641-472-2257, dean@drazninpr.com.

Results of the new “PTSD and Meditation” study will be announced at special presentations: Tuesday evening, June 7, in New York City, and Wednesday evening, June 8, in Washington, DC.

Watch: Reduction of PTSD Symptoms in Veterans with Transcendental Meditation.

FACT SHEET

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • A new report paints a stark picture of the toll on the U.S. military of almost a decade of war: higher stress and lower morale. The report, released Thursday, May 19, 2011, at the Pentagon, relied on questions to soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan in July and August of last year and compared responses with similar surveys in 2005 and 2009. The report noted “significant decline in reports of individual morale” as well as “acute stress rates significantly higher” than in earlier years. Source: CNN: New Pentagon study finds psychological toll from years of fighting.
  • VA’s suicide hotline receives 10,000 calls per month from active and retired servicemen. There are 950 suicide attempts per month by veterans receiving care from the VA. 18 veterans commit suicide each day, 5 of them are under the care of the VA. Source: Army Times: 18 veterans commit suicide each day.
  • The Rand Corporation’s study “Invisible Wounds of War” revealed a disturbing truth about the health of our military as recently as 2008:  Over 300,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression.  According to the Rand report, these “invisible wounds” take a high toll—impacting veterans’ quality of life, hindering their performance at work, straining their families, and placing them at greater risk for violent and self-destructive behaviors. The economic cost of these disorders is equally great—reaching as high as $6 billion over 2 years. Yet, despite the heavy toll of PTSD and depression, only half of affected veterans seek care, and only a third of those who do, receive adequate treatment. Thus, over 80% of affected veterans remain without needed help.

The Transcendental Meditation Technique

  • The Transcendental Meditation technique is an effortless technique practiced 10-20 minutes twice a day sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
  • TM is not a religion or philosophy and involves no new beliefs or change in lifestyle.
  • Over 350 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique confirm a range of benefits for mind, body and behavior.
  • Several studies have compared the effects of different meditation practices and found that Transcendental Meditation provides deeper relaxation and is more effective at reducing anxiety, depression and hypertension than other forms of meditation and relaxation. In addition, no other meditation practice shows the widespread coherence throughout all areas of the brain that is seen with Transcendental Meditation.
  • The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in the United States by a non-profit, educational organization.

Source: EurekAlert! Veterans show a 50 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms after 8 weeks of Transcendental Meditation.
The Huffington Post: Top Research Psychiatrist Promotes Meditation for Healing and Transformation.
Fox News.com: Could Transcendental Meditation Help Veterans Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
The Epoch Times by Ginger Chan: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Reduced by Meditation.
Insidermedicine: Transcendental Meditation May Help Veterans with PTSD (Video)
ABC News/Health: ABC News: Meditation Heals Military Vets With PTSD
Medical News Today: Veteran PTSD Symptoms Significantly Reduced After 8 Weeks Of Transcendental Meditation
Click here for more articles and news videos on TM and PTSD posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Brain Researchers Demonstrate How Students Can Overcome Stress And Function Like Top Achievers

February 1, 2011

Prominent Brain Researchers Demonstrate
How Students Can Overcome Stress Crisis
And Function Like Top Achievers

Free Public Lecture: February 8, 2011, 5 p.m.
Location: Harper Memorial, #103, 1116 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
Sponsored by: Students Transcendental Meditation Association, University of Chicago
Contact: Dr. Carla Brown: 773–324–8695, chicago@tm.org

How can today’s students overcome the debilitating effects of heavy stress – made even more difficult by the economy – in order to perform at their best?  It is indeed possible, and two prominent brain researchers will demonstrate how and share their compelling research findings on Tuesday, February 8, during a free public lecture at the University of Chicago. Check below for a listing of other lectures at different locations throughout the week.

Dr. William Stixrud, Ph.D., a prominent clinical neuropsychologist from Silver Spring, M.D., and Dr. Fred Travis, a neuroscientist and Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA, will discuss how meditation can affect functional integration of the brain and enable changes that result in dramatic reductions in stress hormones and cardiovascular disease.

Both doctors agree that students can use these same meditation techniques to help them reduce and overcome stress and pressure, perform better, and engender increased well being and contentment.

Last week the New York Times covered a survey of 200,000 college freshmen that found that their emotional health was at the lowest level surveyed in 25 years. Dr. William Stixrud, who specializes in work with children and adolescents, responded,

“It is possible for students to ‘have it all’—to experience high achievement in a competitive world and still have happiness and peace of mind.”

Dr. Stixrud’s 2008 research found that middle school students with ADHD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique twice a day in school experienced over 50% reduction in stress and anxiety, and improvements in ADHD symptoms.

During the lecture on February 8, Dr. Travis will also present a live demonstration of changed brain activity as a result of the Transcendental Meditation® technique and will discuss differences in TM from other mental techniques.

In 2009 Dr. Travis collaborated with the American University Department of Psychology in Washington, D.C. in the first random assignment study of effects of meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2009. Dr. Travis and colleagues randomly assigned American University students to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. Measured during the height of exam pressures, these students exhibited functional brain integration resembling that of gold medal athletes.

Non-meditating controls in this experiment were overwhelmed and displayed significantly less brain integration, which is brain functioning that was more fragmented and disorganized. Students reported being more anxious and irritable, reflecting the detrimental effects of college life on the students.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, December 2009, the Transcendental Meditation technique was shown to be an effective method of reducing blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and anger among at-risk college students.

“The problem is stress,” says Dr. Stixrud, who has studied and lectured frequently on the effects of stress on the brain, particularly the developing brain. Dr. Stixrud added,

“The effects of stress are not pretty. Not only does stress interfere with functions such as attention, memory, organization, and integration, but prolonged stress actually kills brain cells and shrinks the brain’s main memory structures. In fact, the top stress researchers in the world report that lifelong stress level is the best predictor of risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In light of this research, I am increasingly struck by how counterproductive it is for students to learn in highly stressful contexts, since stress not only interferes with their learning and retention in the short run but also burns out their brains in the long run.”

FREE PUBLIC LECTURE SERIES:

Diamond Bank, Conference Room, 1800 W. North Avenue, Chicago, IL — Tuesday, February 8th, 11:30 am

University of Chicago, Harper Memorial, #103, 1116 E. 59th Street, Hyde Park, Chicago, IL — Tuesday, February 8th, 5 pm, sponsored by: Students Transcendental Meditation Association

Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Road, Rm. D 2001, Joliet, Il — Wednesday, February 9th, 1:15 pm. For information, call Pat Tinken 815 280 6660

Oak Park Public Library, Veterans Room (2nd Floor), 834 Lake St., Oak Park, IL — Saturday, February 12th, 2 pm

LINKS:

New York Times: Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen
College freshmen at 25-year low in emotional health, study says
Dr. Travis: Live demonstration: What happens when you meditate?

Dr. Travis: Transcending & Brain Research
Dr. Travis: What’s missing from education?
Also see: David Lynch Foundation: School Projects

50% reduction in PTSD symptoms within 4 weeks of Veterans practicing Transcendental Meditation

January 18, 2011

Reduction of PTSD Symptoms in Veterans with Transcendental Meditation

DavidLynchFoundation http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/

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.

See AFP: Meditation soothes war veterans

US Government National Health Center Highlights TM Study on Stressed College Students

May 14, 2010

Transcendental Meditation Helps Young Adults Cope With Stress

A recent study found that Transcendental Meditation (TM) helped college students decrease psychological distress and increase coping ability. For a group of students at high risk for developing hypertension, these changes also were associated with decreases in blood pressure. This could be good news for the many students experiencing academic, financial, and social pressures that can lead to psychological distress—especially in light of evidence that college-age people with even slightly elevated blood pressure are three times more likely to develop hypertension within 30 years.

Funded in part by NCCAM, researchers from Maharishi University of Management and American University studied 298 students from American University and other schools in the Washington, D.C., area. The researchers randomly assigned students to a TM group or a control (wait-list) group. They also created a high-risk subgroup, based on blood pressure readings, family history, and weight. The TM group received a seven-step course in TM techniques, with invitations to attend refresher meetings, and kept track of how often they practiced TM. At the beginning of the study and after 3 months, researchers tested all participants for blood pressure and psychological measures. The researchers noted that 30 percent of the participants dropped out before the end of the study.

Blood pressure decreased in the TM group and increased in the control group, but the differences were not significant overall (TM-control blood pressure differences were significant within the high-risk subgroup). However, compared with controls, the TM group had significant improvement in total psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, and coping ability. Changes in psychological distress and coping paralleled changes in blood pressure.

According to the researchers, these findings suggest that young adults at risk of developing hypertension may be able to reduce that risk by practicing TM. The researchers recommend that future studies of TM in college students evaluate long-term effects on blood pressure and psychological distress.

Reference

URL: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/051410.htm

This page last modified May 13, 2010.

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Transcendental Meditation Helps Young Adults Cope With Stress: http://go.usa.gov/ihN

New studies presented at Society of Behavioral Medicine 31st Annual Meeting show reduced depression with Transcendental Meditation

April 7, 2010

New studies show reduced depression with Transcendental Meditation

The Transcendental Meditation technique was effective at reducing symptoms of depression, according to studies conducted at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles and University of Hawaii in Kohala. Both results will be presented April 9th at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, Washington. Participants included African Americans and Native Hawaiians, 55 years and older, at risk for cardiovascular disease. Those with clinically significant depression reduced depressive symptoms by 48%. Click here to see EurekAlert! press release with graphs, facts on study design, and facts on depression.


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