Losing the Symptoms: Weight Loss and Decrease in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms


  • This work was supported by the Danish National Research Foundation and the Danish Council for Independent Research: Humanities.

Please address correspondence to: Kim Berg Johannessen, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 9, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. E-mail: kimbej@psy.au.dk



Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has frequently been found to have an effect on the development of obesity, a relationship usually thought of as unidirectional. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the level of PTSD symptoms would decrease as a result of weight loss.


In a repeated measures design, PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, social support, and weight were assessed in obese participants during 16 weeks at a weight loss facility.


The participants’ body mass index decreased significantly, and concurrently, a significant decline in the level of PTSD symptoms and depression symptoms was observed.


The beneficial effects of weight loss on depression are consistent with previous work. The decline in the level of PTSD symptoms simultaneously with weight loss is an important and positive effect that has not been reported previously.