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Through strengthening brain functioning, Transcendental Meditation reduces anxiety, depression, pain

Ask the Doctors -    Translate This Article
27 August 2011

Psychiatrist Christopher Clark, M.D.,* continues to answer questions, explaining more about the role of the brain in chronic pain and the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique in promoting relief from pain, depression, and anxiety.

Q: I get anxious and depressed because of the pain. Can TM help with that?
Dr. Clark:
Yes, definitely. Chronic pain patients have a higher incidence of chronic depression and anxiety, due to their chronic pain. These conditions can sometimes be disabling. Regular practice of the TM technique reduces trait anxiety, reduces depression, and reduces pain. On all these levels, it has been seen to be helpful.

It's important to recognize that pain, anxiety and depression are all brain- or neurologically-mediated experiences. Abundant research studies show that during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, more coherence gets generated in the brain, as measured by brain-wave frequencies. The whole brain becomes more balanced, and this is reflected in more happiness, less stress, and reduced tendency for anxiety, depression and pain.

Q: What do you mean by ''neurologically mediated experiences''? 
Dr. Clark:
All experience is neurologically mediated. Experiences of pain, depression and anxiety are not only nerve receptor experiences, but they're also experiences that are processed through many different layers of the brain and its executive functioning.

How pain is interpreted involves not just a sensation, a pin-prick of pain, but involves higher centers of the brain, which create the psychological effects, including anticipation of pain, anxiety and depression. These side effects of pain are what create such debilitating effects on the daily functioning of the individual. The TM technique is so successful in mitigating pain because it creates balance in the total brain.

You could give someone pain medicine, and that might help with their physical pain, but it wouldn't treat their anxiety and depression; it wouldn't make them feel more happy or more joyful. The TM technique is unique because it not only reduces the perception of pain, but it strengthens other levels of brain functioning to reduce anxiety, depression and anticipation of pain.

Related articles:
Research shows Transcendental Meditation reduces the brain's reaction to pain
Transcendental Meditation found to reduce chronic pain
How does the Transcendental Meditation Technique promote relief from pain?

Click here for more about Transcendental Meditation and chronic pain, including related research showing the effects of the technique in promoting reduction in pain, reduced stress, and reduced depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

* Christopher Clark, M.D., is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, and a recipient of a child psychology fellowship from the University of Washington. He has practiced medicine for over 20 years and is currently a psychiatrist in Vero Beach, Florida.

© Copyright 2011 American Association of Physicians Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique

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