Transcendental meditation for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Psychol Trauma. 2018 Nov;10(6):675-680. doi: 10.1037/tra0000346. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Objective: Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mental technique using a mantra to facilitate meditation. TM has a potential for treating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but its clinical efficacy remains to be clarified. This pilot study evaluated the acceptability, preliminary effectiveness, and neurophysiology of TM for veterans with PTSD.

Method: Twenty-nine veterans (20.7% female) were recruited from a major medical center and enrolled in the study. TM instruction was provided by certified TM teachers from the Maharishi Foundation and consisted of 8 weeks of individual and group-based meditation instruction and practice. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, during treatment, posttreatment, and at 2-month follow-up, and included clinical interviews, self-report questionnaires, and electroencephalography (EEG) recorded during resting and meditation states.

Results: From baseline to posttreatment, participants reported reductions in PTSD symptoms, experiential avoidance, and depressive and somatic symptoms, as well as increases on measures of mindfulness and quality of life. Gains were either maintained or continued to improve through the 2-month follow-up. Compared to baseline, EEG spectral power increased in low-frequency bands (1-7 Hz) at posttreatment and follow-up and only during meditation states suggesting TM-specific changes in brain state associated with the intervention.

Conclusions: TM appears to be an acceptable and effective treatment for veterans with PTSD that warrants further study regarding specific outcomes and beneficial changes in brain function. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Mindfulness
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology