A new study finds that training in Transcendental Meditation® can help African war refugees recover from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
African civilians in war-torn countries have experienced the threat of violence or death, and many have witnessed the abuse, torture, rape, and even murder of loved ones.
As a result, many Congolese living in Ugandan refugee camps are suffering from severe PTSD.
A new study shows that Congolese war refugees who learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms in just 10 days.
As reported in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11 subjects were tested after 10 days and 30 days TM practice. After just 10 days, PTSD symptoms dropped almost 30 points.
“An earlier study found a similar result after 30 days where 90 percent of TM subjects dropped to a non-symptomatic level. But we were surprised to see such a significant reduction with this group after just 10 days,” said study author Brian Rees, M.D., M.P.H.
The subjects were assessed using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Civilians, (PCL-C), which rates the severity of PTSD on a scale from 17 to 85. A score below 35 means the symptoms of PTSD have abated.
The subjects in the study initially tested with an average score of 77.9. After just 10 days of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, their PTSD test scores dropped to an average of 48, highly significant clinically.
Thirty days later the subjects were tested again with their PTSD scores falling to an average of 35.3 — meaning that they were nearly without symptoms of PTSD.
“What makes this study interesting is when we tested them in the 90 days before they began the TM technique, their PTSD scores kept going up,” said coauthor Fred Travis, Ph.D.
“During that period their scores were rising, from 68.5 at the beginning to 77.9 after 90 days. But once they started the Transcendental Meditation technique, their PTSD scores plummeted.”
According to the researchers, during this particular meditation technique one experiences a deep state of restful alertness.
Repeated experience of this state for 20 minutes twice a day cultures the nervous system to maintain settled mental and physical functioning the rest of the day.
This helps to minimize disturbing thoughts, sleep difficulties, and other adverse PTSD symptoms.
Travis believes the experience of transcending, with Transcendental Meditation, “calms the amygdala, relieves PTS symptoms, and frees the individual to see more possibilities.”
A previous study of Congolese refugees, which involved 42 subjects found that the Transcendental Meditation group had an average Checklist score of below 35 after 30 days, a non-symptomatic level, while the average score of the control group actually worsened over the same period.
“This is now the fourth study to show an improvement in PTSD,” said Rees, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps. “The Transcendental Meditation technique is increasingly being seen as a viable treatment by the US military.”