Overview of PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that occurs when an individual experiences a traumatic event. Examples of traumatic events can include a serious accident, a natural disaster, war/combat, or serious injuries. Individuals who experience PTSD may suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, and disturbing thoughts and feelings that still arise long after the traumatic event occurs. Approximately 3.5% of individuals suffer from PTSD in the United States, affecting 1 out of every 11 individuals. Women are two times more likely to suffer from PTSD and U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians have disproportionately higher rates than other ethnic groups .
PTSD is a debilitating disorder where a person affected may feel severe negative emotions of anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, and grief . The most beneficial types of therapeutic exercises to improve PTSD involve relaxation and mindfulness, gaining exposure to feared situations, and finding enjoyable activities to engage in. These can provide great benefits to clients struggling with PTSD.
3 Real Examples of Therapeutic Exercises for PTSD
PTSD is a prominent mental health disorder in the United States. However, evidence-based therapeutic mental health exercises can help reduce PTSD symptoms.
Mindfulness assists clients in becoming aware of possible triggers and understanding personal trauma reactions. Strategies within mindfulness-based stress reduction have been proven to help alleviate symptoms caused by PTSD . Some examples of these include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. These have been proven to calm the mind and increase positive emotions within individuals. Adhere.ly has several mindfulness exercises that therapists can use with clients during therapy sessions and remind clients to practice between sessions.
Exposure therapy is used to help clients approach, rather than avoid situations that they fear. Exposure therapy can help clients break patterns of fear and avoidance, enabling them to engage in activities and accomplish tasks . A randomized clinical trial of 67 combat veterans found that prolonged exposure therapy significantly reduced PTSD symptoms in both telehealth and in-person formats with high client satisfaction . Adhere.ly can help therapists facilitate exposure exercises with clients and send them reminders to conduct additional exposure exercises during the week.
Behavioral Activation increases positive emotions and reduces avoidance in clients with PTSD. This can reduce symptoms, decrease depression, and increase quality of life in clients . A pilot study found Behavioral Activation to be a feasible option as intervention for veterans with PTSD. After 16 weeks of individual sessions involving Behavioral Activation, the severity of chronic PTSD symptoms in the sample decreased significantly . In the coming months, Adhere.ly will include pre-programmed activities that align with common values that therapists and clients can schedule when using Behavioral Activation to treat PTSD.
PTSD can develop after an individual experiences highly distressing or life-threatening events. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce PTSD symptoms during and between therapy sessions. Practicing mindfulness, exposure therapy, and behavioral activation can help alleviate negative symptoms of PTSD. For clients in psychotherapy, practicing these three therapeutic mental health exercises at home can help solidify progress made in-session. Adhere.ly has several digitized therapeutic mental health exercises, automated reminders, and monitoring solutions to save you time and improve your clients’ outcomes. Click the link below to sign up for free!
 What is PostTraumatic Stress Disorder? American Psychiatric Association. 2020. Available from: Here
 Boyd JE, Lanius RA, McKinnon MC. Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2018; 43(1):7-25. Available from: Here
 What is Exposure Therapy? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 2017. Available from: Here
 Yuen EK, Gros DF, Price M, Zeigler S, Tuerk PW, Foa EB, Acierno R. Randomized Controlled Trial of Home-Based Telehealth Versus In-Person Prolonged Exposure for Combat-Related PTSD in Veterans: Preliminary Results. [Internet] Wiley Online Library; 2015 Mar 25; 71(6): 500-512. Available from: Here
 Gros DF, Price M, Strachan M, Yuen EK., Milanak ME, Acierno R. Behavioral activation and therapeutic exposure: an investigation of relative symptom changes in PTSD and depression during the course of integrated behavioral activation, situational exposure, and imaginal exposure techniques. Behavior modification. 2012; 36(4): 580–599. Available from: Here
 Jakupcak M, Roberts LJ, Martell C, Mulick P, Michael S, Reed R, Balsam KF, Yoshimoto D, McFall M. A pilot study of behavioral activation for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. J Trauma Stress [Internet]. Wiley Online Library; 2006 June 20; 19(3): 387-391. Available from: Here