Veterans and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Over half a million of our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are people who have been exposed to violence on the battlefields serving for our country. As one of my patients said, “it can happen once in your life, but one hundred times in your mind.” The echoes linger on…
As a psychiatrist, I am painfully aware of the long-term consequences of profound trauma. I am pleased to see that these consequences are being taken so seriously at this time. When we see the impressive effect of Transcendental Meditation on such military heroes as Jerry Yellin and Dan Burks, it is natural to wonder: How can such a simple technique provide such powerful relief to those who have suffered so much?
The answer lies in a single word – stress. People who are terribly stressed be they soldiers under mortar fire or children being abused – feel the impact powerfully in those parts of the brain that we’ve already heard about – such as the amygdala — responsible for registering danger. And these brain centers continue to reverberate long after the danger is over – like a gong that continues to vibrate long after it has been struck. Our fight-or-flight responses remain on high alert, resulting in hyper-vigilance, flashbacks and nightmares.
Our veterans get bombarded on a daily basis by memories and flashbacks. It is a shocking statistic that 18 veterans everyday commit suicide. Researchers have shown that if you startle people with unpleasant loud noises or violent movie images, those who practice Transcendental Meditation regularly will settle down far more quickly than their non-meditating counterparts. TM appears to be acting as a surge protector, reducing the impact of stress on the body and mind.
Sarina Grosswold, Ed.D. is a colleague and cognitive learning specialist who says:
“It is astounding that we have lost more to suicide than actually have been lost in combat. That is the first time ever. We put together a pilot study with returning veterans form the Iraq Afghanistan war and what we saw was within four weeks of practicing Transcendental Meditation a 50% reduction in the PTSD symptoms. I don’t think that there is anything that shows that level of response that quickly.”
Video with Dr. Grosswald and myself (2:08)
Because of TM’s ability to settle down the nervous system, to slow down the fight or flight response I believe Transcendental Meditation is a promising direction for us to explore. TM is something we should be trying, testing and studying.
Wishing you Light and Transcendence,
Washington Post Article, “Does Transcendental Meditation Help Veterans With PTSD?”