How Meditation Can Help Active-Duty Soldiers

The practice may significantly reduce PTSD symptoms.
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For service members in the U.S. military, post-traumatic stress disorder can quickly become a part of everyday life. The exposure to life-threatening events can leave soldiers -- both retired and active -- feeling hopeless, anxious, sleepless or in pain.

But, as it turns out, meditation can help.

A small study from researchers with the Medical College of Georgia focused on a group of 74 active-duty service members seeking treatment for PTSD symptoms and anxiety disorders at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center's Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic in Augusta. Half the group was assigned a transcendental meditation practice in addition to their other therapies, while half continued with their other therapies as usual. Those who meditated were guided in their practice by a teacher and asked to meditate twice daily in 20-minute sessions.

After one month, 83.7 percent of the meditators had stabilized, reduced or stopped the use of medications to treat their PTSD or anxiety disorders, Science Daily reports, while only 59.4 percent of non-meditators did the same. About 11 percent of meditators increased their dosage of medication over the period, while that was true of 40.5 percent of non-meditators.

The study's authors say it's a huge sign that meditation can help those who struggle in the field every day. Their results "could have a significant health impact" to "improve quality of life for military personnel," they write in the study.

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Meditation has been incorporated into soldier training and veteran treatment for some time now, but this is one of the first studies to test the practice on active-duty personnel, the researchers pointed out.

When as many as 17 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD, such discoveries are a huge step forward.

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