Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) has been shown to have a large effect on reducing trait anxiety for people with high anxiety. Trait anxiety is a measure of how anxious a person usually is as opposed to state anxiety, which is how anxious a person is at the moment – according to a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
The meta-analysis covered 16 randomized-controlled trials, the gold standard in medical research, and included 1,295 subjects from various walks of life, age groups and life situations. TM was compared with various control groups, including treatment-as-usual, individual and group psychotherapy, and various relaxation techniques.
Studies on high stress groups, such as veterans suffering from PTSD and prison inmates, showed dramatic reductions in anxiety from TM practice, whereas studies of groups with only moderately elevated anxiety levels, such as normal adults and college students, showed more modest changes.
“It makes sense that if you are not anxious to begin with, that TM practice is not going to reduce your anxiety that much,” said lead author of the meta-analysis, Dr. David Orme-Johnson, an independent research consultant. “Groups with elevated anxiety received significant relief from TM, and that reduction occurred rapidly in the first few weeks of practice.”
Additionally, TM was found to produce significant improvements in other areas worsened by anxiety, such as blood pressure, insomnia, emotional numbness, family problems, employment status, and drug and alcohol abuse.
“Control groups who received usual treatment did not show dramatic reductions in anxiety. In fact, control groups that were highly anxious to begin with, if anything, tended to become more anxious over time,” co-author Dr. Vernon Barnes of the Georgia Prevention Center, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Ga. Explained. “However, progressive muscle relaxation was also effective in reducing anxiety. But, it did not have the other side benefits of TM, such as increasing overall mental health, and increasing the rate of recovery of the physiology from stressors.”