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'Enormous potential for psychiatry' shown by Transcendental Meditation research
by Global Good News staff writer
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13 December 2010
Distinguished psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, MD,* eloquently described the 'enormous potential of this approach for psychiatry'—using the Transcendental Meditation Technique to treat not only Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but many other conditions involving stress, anxiety, and depression.
Continuing his address to the 13 December conference in New York City that launched 'Operation Warrior Wellness'—the David Lynch Foundation's nationwide initiative to offer the technique to 10,000 war veterans and their families—Dr Rosenthal went on to describe the tremendous human and financial costs of PTSD.
'One form of anxiety disorder that we've heard a lot about today is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This has come very much into the news because its cost both in human terms and financially is enormous.
'According to one estimate, of the more than 1.6 million military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade, at least 1 in 7 suffers from some form of PTSD. Of these, about half never seek treatment, probably because of the stigma; and of those who seek treatment, at least half do not get adequate care—[it's] very difficult to treat.'
He also discussed recent research on Transcendental Meditation and PTSD with combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, which he conducted with Sarina Grosswald, EdD, who spoke earlier in the conference.
Dr Rosenthal described a pilot study that looked at the effects of Transcendental Meditation on PTSD. David George, a young veteran featured in a video shown at the conference, was one of the study participants. 'He heard the radio ad and he thought, ''I've got nothing to lose,'' and joined up to participate,' Dr Rosenthal said.
He also described the case of another young man who, as a gunner on a Humvee in Iraq, was exposed to many explosions and other extremely traumatic events, and suffered from PTSD after returning home.
'As Dr Grosswald mentioned, this is a condition where there's hypervigilance, you feel like you're going to be attacked at any moment. There are flashbacks, memories that are very vivid; there are nightmares, your sleep is disrupted. For example, in this young man's case, every time he went over a pothole in the road . . . he would re-experience and imagine that he'd gone over an explosive device. And he would wake up at night in a nightmare, drenched with sweat. . . . He took to drinking to numb his pain, and signed up for our study as a last resort.
Once the young veteran began to practise Transcendental Medition, Dr Rosenthal said, 'bit by bit, TM began to work its magic.
'Of course it's not magic. It feels like magic—' he said, going on to list some of the many beneficial effects occurring in the body during Transcendental Meditation: 'It's EEG coherence, it's physiological changes, it's all kinds of amazing things—secretion of the hormone prolactin, which has a soothing effect. It's many actual physical things. But if you don't know all the details of what's going on, it really feels transformational.' This young man began to experience this transformation, and 'he settled down, he steadied.'
'We think this is a hugely promising potential avenue for treatment of this very hard to treat condition, Dr Rosenthal said. 'I could tell you many other stories—not just of PTSD, of anxiety, of depression, of people under overwhelming stress. The potential of this approach for psychiatry is just beginning, it's just enormous. The early research is very exciting.
'As a psychiatrist, someone who tries to treat people with medications and therapy, I'm fully aware that they are far from perfect. The idea that we've got at our disposal this new approach that can in a powerful, simple, and profound way help people—for the most part on their own, without ongoing input by mental health professionals—is very exciting, especially in this era of diminishing resources.'
Global Good News will feature more presentations from the 13 December 'Operation Warrior Wellness' launch in the coming days.
See also Global Good News articles:
∙ 'Experts present research on benefits of Transcendental Meditation for veterans with PTSD'
∙ 'Dramatic improvement in PTSD in Iraq, Afghanistan veterans practising Transcendental Meditation'
∙ 'Distinguished psychiatrist urges Transcendental Meditation to treat PTSD - cites excellence of TM research'
* Norman E Rosenthal, MD, was a senior researcher in psychiatry and psychobiology for 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health, and was the first to describe Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). He is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, and conducted research on Transcendental Meditation and Iraq veterans with PTSD.
Watch replays of David Lynch Foundation live webcasts from New York City—13 December:
∙ Launch of 'Operation Warrior Wellness'
Paley Center for Media, New York City, 13 December - morning
Click here for replay.
∙ 'Change Begins Within' Benefit Gala
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 13 December - evening
Click here for replay.
Healing the Wounds of PTSD Through Meditation
DLF.TV — David Lynch Foundation Television
To view a bibliography of research on Transcendental Meditation, stress, and stress-related disorders, click here.
Global Good News comment:
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