PTSD stands for “post traumatic stress disorder.” It is a documented condition that can result from a variety of traumatic events, including military service, natural disasters, violence or various forms of abuse. It can be very challenging for the individual struggling with PTSD, but the effects of PTSD can also impact couples and families, making PTSD and relationships a challenging combination.
When it comes to PTSD and relationships, the effects can make maintaining relationships more challenging, but strong, positive and supportive relationships can also be a key to overcoming challenges and finding a road to recovery. Common symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, negative thoughts, angry or anxious outbursts, anxiety, depression and loss of interest in daily activities. Some people also experience feelings of shame or guilt or are easily startled due to their experiences.
If you have a loved one with PTSD, you may be wondering how you can best support your partner while still taking care of yourself. It can be hard to balance PTSD and relationships, but there are things you can do to help your loved one and yourself:
- Identify triggers of the PTSD symptoms and help your partner to avoid them.
- Talk about what your partner needs – it may be more space, or it may be reassurance, or both.
- Don’t minimize the severity of their experiences and avoid blaming them for their PTSD.
- Encourage your loved one to seek out treatment and you may want to talk to a professional as well.
Your sensitivity and empathy can help someone with PTSD, but it is important to recognize that it is okay to walk away as well if the relationship deteriorates, especially if there are concerns about abuse.