Posts Tagged ‘emotional numbness’

Effects of TM Practice on Trait Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

October 10, 2013

A new meta-analysis published today (Oct 9, 2013) in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013;19(10):1-12)1 found the Transcendental Meditation® technique (TM) has a large effect on reducing trait anxiety for people with high anxiety. Trait anxiety is a measure of how anxious a person usually is, as opposed to state anxiety, which refers to how anxious we are at the moment. A meta-analysis is an objective means to draw conclusions from all the research in a field.

This meta-analysis covered 16 randomized controlled trials, the gold standard in medical research, and included 1295 subjects from various walks of life, age groups, and life situations. TM was compared with various control groups, including treatment-as-usual, individual and group psychotherapy, and various relaxation techniques. Studies on high stress groups, such as veterans suffering from PTSD and prison inmates, showed dramatic reductions in anxiety from TM practice, whereas studies of groups with only moderately elevated anxiety levels, such as normal adults and college students, showed more modest changes.

A chart shows that studies of individuals with anxiety levels in the 90th percentile (higher than 90% of the rest of the adult population) showed dramatic reductions in anxiety down to the 57th percentile from TM practice. This is just a little higher than the average anxiety level, which is the 50th percentile. Study groups that started in the 60th percentile, a little above average, showed more modest reductions, to the 48th percentile, a little below average.

Lead author on the meta-analysis, Dr. David Orme-Johnson, an independent research consultant, commented: “It makes sense that if you are not anxious to begin with, that TM practice is not going to reduce your anxiety that much. Groups with elevated anxiety received significant relief from TM, and that reduction occurred rapidly in the first few weeks of practice.”

TM was also found to produce significant improvements in other areas worsened by anxiety, such as blood pressure, insomnia, emotional numbness, family problems, employment status, and drug and alcohol abuse.

This chart shows that studies of individuals with anxiety levels in the 90th percentile (higher than 90 percent of the rest of the adult population) showed dramatic reductions in anxiety down to the 57th percentile from TM practice. This is just a little higher than the average anxiety level, which is the 50th percentile. Study groups that started in the 60th percentile, a little above average, showed more modest reductions, to the 48th percentile, a little below average. (Photo Credit: Dr. David Orme-Johnson)

Co-author Dr. Vernon Barnes of the Georgia Prevention Center, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, Georgia explains what happens with control groups in these studies. “Control groups who received usual treatment did not show dramatic reductions in anxiety. In fact, control groups that were highly anxious to begin with, if anything, tended to become more anxious over time.”

When asked about the effect of other approaches to reduce anxiety, he added, “However, progressive muscle relaxation was also effective in reducing anxiety. But, it did not have the other side benefits of TM, such as increasing overall mental health, and increasing the rate of recovery of the physiology from stressors.”

Dr. Orme-Johnson answered a commonly asked question about placebo effects. He said: “Since anxiety is a self-reported measure, one might wonder whether the effects of TM practice or any other treatment program were a placebo effect. Placebos are great. If you give a person a sugar pill and tell them that it will reduce anxiety, it probably will, but only for a little while before the effect wears off. But the effects of TM were shown to be lasting and include objective benefits. For example a recent study showed that TM reduces heart attacks, strokes, and death over a ten-year period. So we know its effects are real and are not just due to a placebo.”

The meta-analysis also examined the issue of bias with TM studies on anxiety. There was no evidence of missing studies and studies conducted by scientists who were in any way associated with Maharishi University of Management or any of its sister universities did not have stronger effects than research conducted at independent universities.

Two previous meta-analyses on TM have found that it is highly effective in reducing trait anxiety, and is more effective than other meditation and relaxation techniques, including mindfulness meditation.2,3

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Background Information on Transcendental Meditation

The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique is a simple, natural, effortless procedure practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. It is not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle. It is the most widely practiced, most researched, and most effective method of self-development. For more information visit: http://www.tm.org.

Background information on anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the United States, affecting 40 million adults (about 18% of the population) and costing more than $42 billion a year.4,5 Anxiety is considered a negative mood disturbance that results from failure to predict, control, and obtain desired goals6 and is associated with dysfunctional cognition, behavior, and physiologic over-activity.7 Anxiety further impairs health by motivating increased use of tobacco and alcohol8 and predisposes the individual to chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease.7,8

  1. Orme-Johnson DW, Barnes VA. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on Trait Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Altern Complement Med 2013;19(10):1-12. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2013.0204
  2. Eppley K, Abrams AI, Shear J. Differential effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety: A meta-analysis. J Clin Psychol 1989;45(6):957-974.
  3. Sedlmeier P, Eberth J, Schwarz M, et al. The psychological effects of meditation: A meta-analysis. Psychol Bull 2012;138(6):1139-1171.
  4. ADAA. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 2013; http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa. Accessed January 10, 2013.
  5. Greenberg PE, Sisitsky T, Kessler RC, et al. The economic burden of anxiety disorders in the 1990′s. J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(7):472-435.
  6. Barlow DH. Unraveling the mysteries of anxiety and its disorders from the prespective of emotion theory. Am Psychol 2000;55:1247-1263.
  7. Kolzet JA, Inra M. Anxiety. In: Allan R, Fisher J, eds. Heart and Mind: The Practice of Cardiac Psychology. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2012.
  8. Sawchuk CN, Olatunji BO. Anxiety, health risk factors, and chronic disease. Am J Lifestyle Med 2011;5(6):531-541.
Source: EurekAlert! and Maharishi University of Management.
Posted on Science Codex, Medical News Today, Helio: Psychiatric Annals, PubMed, and many other science and medical news sites. Also on the TM Blog: New Research on TM and Anxiety. Here is a PDF of the paper made available by Renncap.

Transcending a Different Type of PTSD — Helping Children of the Night

October 11, 2011

OPINION

Transcending a Different Type of PTSD — Helping Children of the Night

By

Published October 08, 2011 | FoxNews.com

Lately there has been a storm of publicity – and deservedly so – about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The public has become better educated about this potentially disabling disorder and its symptoms, such as hypervigilance, an exaggerated tendency to startle, flashbacks, nightmares and emotional numbness, to name just a few.

Mental health professionals have emphasized the need to diagnose and treat PTSD wherever it arises.  In this piece, I would like to draw attention to yet another group suffering from PTSD – child victims of prostitution who, against all odds, are trying to go straight and choose a different path in life.

I recently visited a home for such children in the Los Angeles suburbs, part of an organization aptly named “Children of the Night,” which has been operating since 1979 under the guidance of its founder and director, Dr. Lois Lee.

The organization is the most comprehensive social services agency in the country for rescuing America’s children from prostitution – a term Lee prefers to “trafficking,” which she considers too sanitized and not shocking enough for a problem that ought to be shocking but too often hides in plain sight of ordinary citizens.

The story of the young prostitute usually starts with early sexual abuse by a trusted care-giver, creating a trauma that continues to fester in the developing mind and brain of the young person, often resulting in emotional and behavioral difficulties.

The young person runs away – or drifts away – from home and, vulnerable to entrusting his or her safety to untrustworthy adults, goes on to be re-abused by those who pretend to offer love and shelter.

It is an ugly story that inclines us to avert our eyes, change the channel or click on a different web link.  I ask you to resist this natural aversion because these are our children and they can be helped with proper understanding and care. — Lee estimates that her organization has assisted over 10,000 young people since its inception.

In Lee’s opinion, all these children suffer from PTSD.  They are seething with rage, which they either direct outwards – screaming, lashing out, throwing things – or inwards by cutting themselves.

Stressed out in body and mind, many complain of abdominal pains so severe that they need to be taken to the emergency room.  They suffer nightmares and sleep disorders that wake them up at all hours.  Sometimes their distress during sleep is so bad that paramedics need to wake them and help settle them down.

Consider one of these young people, “Annie,” an 18-year-old graduate of the Children of the Night.  When she first came to the program, Annie experienced many symptoms of PTSD.

Like the other girls, she would panic when she saw a black limo driving down the street with its lights off, which reminding her of the pimps in her former life.  Triggered by all sorts of fears and memories, Annie would scream and throw things.  An apparently innocent TV show might remind her of evenings when she and her pimp would watch that same show together in earlier times.  One flashback would lead to another until her system was boiling over with intolerable panic and rage.

All the children in the program receive psychotherapy, but Annie did not find it particularly useful.  One thing that has made a big difference for her is Transcendental Meditation (TM), a technique that Lee has incorporated into her program in the last few years, with excellent results.

According to Annie, TM has reduced the impact of her flashbacks, has made her less angry, and less likely to her take out her distress on others.  As she puts it, “TM helps me calm down and center myself throughout the day, and focus on my schoolwork and tasks. It has also helped me trace back my emotions to when I was really young.  I realize that I couldn’t cry or tell people they had hurt my feelings.  I chose anger instead of hurt.”

The beneficial effects of TM on the PTSD symptoms of the Children of the Night have also been documented for traumatized veterans of combat, and are consistent with the known effects of TM in settling down fight-or-flight responses, which are exaggerated in people with PTSD.

Of Dr. Lee and Children of the Night, Annie says, “The program has done everything for me.  If not for the program, I would have died on the streets.”

Annie’s words are all the more poignant as there are so many other children who have not had the good fortune to stumble across Lee and her program. Keep your eye out for them and spare a thought for how we as a society can prevent the horrible problem of child prostitution and take care of those who have already fallen prey to it.

Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D. is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and author of “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation” (Tarcher-Penguin, 2011).

Also see: Children of the Night, movie director David Lynch expand work and Meditation Helps Homeless Children, and another Fox News Opinion piece by Dr. Rosenthal: Could Transcendental Meditation Help Veterans Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?


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