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How PTSD Can Affect Your Relationships

We hear the term “PTSD” often when soldiers return from combat and how the experience changed them forever. While war can be a devastating experience in the human psyche, it’s not the only cause of the disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause nightmares for individuals who are struggling with it. Unlike physical handicaps that we can see, PTSD is an emotional wound that is invisible and resonates deep within one’s core.

PTSD is defined as a disorder than develops in people who experience a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. It’s normal to experience fear, and everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, but most people recover from their initial symptoms. Unfortunately, those with PTSD will continue to experience symptoms for months or even years after the event has happened.

PTSD can happen to anyone. Statistics show that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will likely endure the disorder at some point in their lives. Events like physical assault, witnessing death or injury, and child sexual abuse can have lasting effects. Researchers at Harvard University have also found that genetics play a role in if someone will develop the condition. 

While individuals have enough to deal with on their own who struggle, another problem is that it may have a lasting effect on their relationships. The National Center for PTSD explains that trauma survivors will experience difficulties in family relationships, close friendships. PTSD also causes problems with emotional closeness, trust, responsible assertiveness, and practical problem-solving. 

How Will Trauma Survivors React?

In the first few weeks and months following trauma, it’s common for survivors to experience anger, detachment, or worry in their relationships. Over time, however, most can resume their prior level of closeness in relationships, but five to 10 percent of survivors will develop PTSD. It will cause them to feel distant from one another and experience numbness. Survivors typically feel on guard, jumpy, irritable, worried, or nervous, and they will not be able to relax or be intimate. 

Trauma survivors will also have less interest in social or sexual activities due to the reasons mentioned earlier. It will cause them to increase their need to protect loved ones, and it may cause them to come across as demanding or tense. 

They will experience flashbacks, which will make relationships impossible. Survivors will avoid all activities that could trigger a memory. It is challenging to sleep because of nightmares, and it will affect their mood. 

When a survivor tries to feel close or to trust, it may seem dangerous like they are letting their guard down, although the survivor feels an actual bond of love or friendship. The anxiety may be intense enough that they cannot keep a healthy relationship, in spite of all attempts to do so, and that alone will cause tension. 

If you are struggling with PTSD, it’s possible that therapy can be the right step with you. Reach out to your physician immediately to discuss any and all options that may be right for you.

Sources

Study finds first molecular genetic evidence of PTSD heritability. (2018, June 22). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/molecular-genetic-evidence-ptsd-heritability/

VA.gov: Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp

Bressert, S. (2018, December 26). How Does PTSD Affect Relationships? Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/ptsd-and-relationships/

Grohol, J. M. (2019, September 25). Anxiety Disorders: Symptoms, Types & Treatments. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/anxiety/

Department of Veterans Affairs, & Veterans Health Administration. (2013, August 15). VA.gov: Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.publichealth.va.gov/

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