How is forgiveness related to PTSD?

Forgiveness involves reducing negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviours toward a transgressor, as well as enhancing positive ones. It involves a willingness to abandon resentments, negative judgment, and indifferent behaviour, while fostering compassion, generosity, and love.

Studies have found evidence for both physical and psychological health benefits associated with forgiveness. This is because forgiving has the potential to break cycles of rumination and negative affect, which reduces stress and in turn improves various indicators of health. Long-term forgiveness habits (trait forgiveness) might better predict improved health outcomes than forgiving a specific offender or transgression (state forgiveness).

What is the evidence for forgiveness in people with PTSD?

Moderate to high quality evidence suggests increased levels of forgiveness is associated with decreased PTSD symptoms, although the effect may not be significant after adjusting for other trauma outcome variables such as depression, anxiety, anger, rumination, stress, and social functioning.

August 2021

Image: ©Nikki Zalewski –

Last updated at: 5:37 am, 11th October 2021
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.