Back to Blog List

PTSD: Recognizing The Symptoms and Exercising as Part of Your Treatment


More than half of adults are at risk of being exposed to a traumatic event, such as a life-threatening accident, physical assault, a natural disaster, abuse, or combat, during their lifetime. Of people exposed to a traumatic event, about 8 percent of men and 20 percent of women end up getting posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 1.

After being exposed to a traumatic event, what signs might indicate PTSD? Researchers have grouped PTSD symptoms into four clusters 2, 3. Consider these questions:

1. Re-experiencing the event or intrusion symptoms:

  • Do you have times during the day when you relive the event, even though it is not happening?
  • Do you have nightmares or think about the event when you don’t want to?
  • When you are reminded of the event, do you get fearful or anxious?

2. Avoidance of people, places, or things that serve as a reminder of the trauma:

  • Do you avoid certain places, people, or situations?
  • Do you stay away from certain conversation topics or feelings because they remind you of the event?
  • Do you find it difficult to remember the specifics of what happened?
  • Are there things you used to enjoy doing that you no longer do?

3. Negative changes in mood and thoughts associated with the event:

  • Have others noticed that you seem unhappy?
  • Do you feel less connected to your family and friends?

4. Chronic hyper-arousal symptoms:

  • Since the event, do you have trouble sleeping?
  • Since the event, are you angrier, more prone to arguments, or even violent?
  • Are you finding it difficult to remain focused and complete tasks?
  • Do you feel like you are always on guard?
  • Do certain things startle you that didn’t before the event?

If you answer yes to a few of these questions, and these symptoms are affecting your life, know there is help available. You can get started by seeing a primary care doctor or psychiatrist to discuss your concerns. The best evidence-based treatment available is a combination of medication and counseling, although many other treatments are being studied and tested and may also be beneficial. For example, new research supports using exercise to improve PTSD symptoms. A recent study found that participating in an exercise program for just three months (when used in combination with talk therapy and medication) can reduce PTSD and depression symptoms and improve sleep 4.

Some research supports the use of acupuncture and yoga to help with symptoms. In addition, participating in peer or family support groups or addressing spiritual needs may also help in recovery.

For more information:

About the Author

Ermal Bojdani, medical student
Reviewed by Claudia Reardon, M.D., Assistant Professor
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health


  1. Kessler, R.C., Sonnega, A., Bromet, E., Hughes, M., and Nelson, C.B. Posttraumatic stress disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1995;52:1048-1060.
  2. Warner CH, Warner CM, Appenzeller GN, and Hoge CW. Identifying and managing posttraumatic stress disorder. American Family Physician. 2013 Dec 15;88(12):827-34.
  3. American Psychiatric Association: Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
  4. Rosenbaum S, Sherrington C, and Tiedemann A. Exercise augmentation compared with usual care for post-traumatic disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2015 May:131(5):350-9.


Patients and FamiliesPTSD


Comments (1) Add a Comment

  • Mildred Quiles

    I am very pleased with the information that was given to me as far as this PTSD. I am in college and I am taking up Human Services and I am taking Psychology.


Add a comment

Enter the text shown in this image:*(Input is case sensitive)
* - Only comments approved by post author will be displayed here.