Munson Health
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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by Scholten A
PTSD symptoms usually do not completely disappear. Therefore, you will likely need to continue coping with the symptoms and the problems they cause. Recovery is an ongoing and gradual daily process. The following lifestyle changes can help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life:

Join a PTSD Support Group

Many communities have support groups for survivors of trauma with PTSD. Though it may be difficult for you to take that first step and attend a meeting, groups can provide additional emotional support and help you cope with your symptoms and other problems related to PTSD. It may feel awkward to meet new people and talk about yourself, but with regular attendance, many people find that they eventually feel more trusting and open. You’ll likely also feel better that you’re taking positive steps in your recovery.

Join an Alcohol or Drug Treatment Program

Many survivors of trauma use alcohol or drugs for relief of PTSD symptoms. While this may seem to have some benefits in the short-term, it always makes things worse in the long-term. If you are using alcohol or drugs to cope with PTSD, it’s important to get some help so that you can stop. A treatment program or group program is often the most effective way to stop using alcohol or drugs. Ask your doctor for referrals to services to help you stop using alcohol and/or drugs.

Begin a Regular Exercise Program

Walking, jogging, swimming, weight lifting, and other forms of exercise can help reduce physical tension. Exercise can also provide an outlet for your emotions, distract you from worries and disturbing memories, and can help increase your self-esteem and feelings of control. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
For more information on starting a regular exercise program, click here.


National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website. Available at:

Stern, TA et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier, 2008.


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