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New research on Transcendental Meditation shows reduced depression without drugs

The M.U.M. Review
Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA
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29 May 2010

The Transcendental Meditation® technique may be an effective approach to reduce symptoms of depression, according to new research presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, Washington, this past April by Sanford Nidich, MUM faculty member and senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention.

The studies, conducted at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles and the University of Hawaii in Kohala, included African Americans and native Hawaiians 55 years and older who were at risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomly allocated to the Transcendental Meditation program or health education control group and were assessed with a standard test for depression—the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression inventory over 9-12 months.

''Clinically meaningful reductions in depressive symptoms were associated with practice of the Transcendental Meditation program,' Dr. Nidich said. ''The findings of these studies have important implications for improving mental health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.''

Participants in both studies who practiced the Transcendental Meditation program showed significant reductions in depressive symptoms compared to health education controls. The largest decreases were found in those who had indications of clinically significant depression, with those practicing Transcendental Meditation showing an average reduction in depressive symptoms of 48%.

''The research was well received at the conference,'' Dr. Nidich said. ''Top researchers in the field of depression were particularly interested in the large reductions observed in those subjects with indications of clinical depression, without the added use of drugs.''

The results of these studies are timely. For older Americans, depression is particularly debilitating, with approximately 20% suffering from some form. Overall, 18 million men and women suffer from depression in the U.S. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, with even a moderate level of symptoms associated with increased cardiac events.

Depression accounts for $83.1 billion in medical care and workplace costs, Dr. Nidich said. Approximately 50% of people with clinical depression can go undiagnosed by their general health practitioner.

''These results are encouraging and provide support for testing the efficacy of the Transcendental Meditation technique as a therapeutic adjunct in the treatment of clinical depression,'' said Hector Myers, Ph.D., study coauthor and professor and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at U.C.L.A.

Other MUM coauthors included Robert Schneider, Mark Toomey, Maxwell Rainforth, John Salerno, and Carolyn King. Laura Alcorn, Marilyn Ungaro, and Diane Prather-Huff helped with the research.

The studies were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health—National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Copyright © 2010 Maharishi University of Management

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