Northwell Health Researching the Effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Veterans

(top row, left to right) Michael Castano, Juan Serrano, Adam Friedman (Bottom row, left to right) Dr. Mayer Bellehsen, Harry Martinian

BAY SHORE, NY -- On the heels of a successful study of the effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on PTSD at the Army’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Northwell Health, formerly the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is running an experimentally designed study to test the effectiveness of TM on combat veterans.

The study is using the Clinician-Administered PTSD assessment (CAPS-5), which the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs considers the “gold standard” in PTSD assessment.  Veterans who are assessed with PTSD and agree to learn TM to address their symptoms will be randomized into two groups, those who learn TM and a control group who do not.  Reductions in PTSD in the TM group will be compared to the control group to isolate the effectiveness of TM on PTSD in veterans.

The Fort Gordon study looked at 74 active-duty service members with PTSD or anxiety disorder. Half the service members voluntarily practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly in addition to their other therapy; half did not. In just one month after learning the TM technique there was a significant reduction in psychotropic medication usage among the TM group:

TM meditators83.7 percent stabilized, reduced or stopped using medication. 10.8 percent increased.

Non-meditators: 59.4 percent stabilized, reduced or stopped using medication. 40.5 percent increased.  

“With the significant results that have been documented on the effects of TM to reduce trauma symptoms, we sought to create a rigorously designed study to help determine whether TM should be an additional treatment for veterans with PTSD,” said Dr. Mayer Bellehsen, the lead investigator of the study and director of Northwell Health’s Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and Their Families in Bay Shore, NY, a first-of-its-kind health center that was developed as part of a collaboration between the VA and Northwell.

PTSD affects about 13 percent of service members deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Finding the optimal therapy remains in debate as these prolonged wars have large numbers of active duty and veteran personnel struggling with the emotional aftershock.        

Individuals interested in participating in the Northwell study should call 631.647.2532.

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The David Lynch Foundation's Operation Warrior Wellness program is providing funding for the Northwell research.

           

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