Mantram Meditation Decrease PTSD in Veterans
There is a significantly high dropout rate among veterans who seek treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many conventional therapies, such as trauma-focused therapy, address the specific traumas that trigger symptoms
of PTSD and can be so emotionally painful that the veterans cannot complete treatment.
Learning how to regulate the emotional overwhelm associated with these memories is one way to increase treatment adherence and help the many thousands of individuals who suffer with PTSD.
Meditation has been used in the past to help individuals cope with feelings of anxiety and depression and could provide an alternative and complementary approach to addressing the painful emotions of PTSD. The tree types of meditation include object-focused, moment-to-moment, and transcendental (TM). Both moment-to-moment and object-focused meditation encourage acceptance and non-judgment of emotions, while TM increases spiritual awareness by focusing on a mantram.
Through the mantram repetition program (MRP), clients are guided into meditation through repetition of a spiritual word that they can rely on at any time to bring them to a state of heightened awareness. The goal of MRP is to slow someone down so that they focus only on the present and one feeling or task at a time. This allows them to manage difficult emotions as they arise without becoming overpowered by them.
To determine if MRP would help veterans with PTSD, Jill Bormann of the San Diego VA recently conducted a study comparing the effects of MRP versus treatment-as-usual (TAU) in 146 veterans with PTSD. After six weeks of treatment, Bormann found that the veterans who participated in the MRP realized symptom reduction that was nearly twice that of the TAU group.
Specifically, those in the MRP group exhibited significantly better emotional regulation skills and reduction of anxiety when they experienced traumatic memories.
The MRP participants also reported a dramatic increase in overall spiritual connectedness and well-being. Overall, the MRP group showed much better improvement than the TAU group. Bormann added, “In summary, the 6-week MRP was well received and tolerated, and demonstrated some improvement in PTSD symptoms, depression, and mental-health-related quality of life in veterans, when delivered as an adjunct to TAU (medication and case management)”.
Bormann, J.E. Thorp, S.R. Wetherell, J.L., Goishan, Sl, & Lang, A.J. (2012). Meditation-based intervention with posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized trial. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.