Is Your Relationship Affected By PTSD? Psychologists Can Help

Updated December 22, 2022by ReGain Editorial Team

If you are wondering if your relationship is being affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychologists and counselors can help. We all have our struggles with ptsd relationships, and mental health conditions are something you don't want to ignore. If you or your partner are struggling with these issues, professional help can be beneficial.

Though PTSD has the potential to affect many areas of our lives, it doesn’t have to impact our relationships negatively. You deserve to have a healthy relationship free from the struggles that PTSD can present. If you are willing to take the necessary steps, you can minimize its impact, improve your and your partner's mental health, and increase the likelihood of success in the relationship while also working toward overcoming the PTSD.

What Is PTSD? Psychologists’ Definition

PTSD Can Be Challenging For You And Your Partner To Cope With

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a disorder that affects those who go through extreme trauma. Many different traumas can bring this disorder on. Some examples include going through a natural disaster or witnessing or experiencing acts of war. Many people, though, have PTSD as a result of relationship problems. Some of these issues are:

  • Violence or assault
  • Infidelity
  • Death of a loved one
  • Kidnapping

The effects of these situations happening to you or your partner in a relationship can transfer into other areas of your life in many ways. If you can identify and understand the way they will or do manifest themselves, you will be better equipped to healthily cope with and work through them. Ultimately, if you want to have a healthy and happy relationship with someone with PTSD, it’s important to play a supportive role in their life, or vice-versa if you are the one experiencing PTSD.

The Effects Of PTSD In Your Relationship

The effects of PTSD can manifest themselves in many different ways. Some examples include:

  • Withdrawing in social situations
  • Being quick to anger
  • Inconsistent behavior
  • Intimacy problems
  • Difficulty resolving conflict
  • Trust issues

Here’s a breakdown of each:

Withdrawing In Social Situations

The effects of PTSD can be unpredictable and, in many cases, may be uncontrollable. For example, if your loved one has PTSD due to involvement in a war, loud noises or groups of people could bring forth negative or unpleasant emotions, and potentially result in things like them feel so overwhelmed that they abruptly leave the situation.

Consequently, being involved in social situations or certain types of events could be a struggle for this person. This could apply any time or place where there are large gatherings of people, including concerts, restaurants, grocery stores, and more. For someone who doesn't have PTSD, it can be difficult to understand why a person may have these struggles. Sometimes, normal occurrences that are not alarming to the average person could be upsetting for someone with PTSD. But when you don't understand these behaviors or stressors, it could become frustrating or alienating to the individual with PTSD.

It is important to note that what your partner is going through is not their fault. Undoubtedly, the thing they need most in these moments is support.

Being Quick To Anger

For someone with PTSD, it can be difficult to control emotions for several reasons. The first involves how this person manages and responds to stressful situations. Sometimes these are instances in which the anger may not even be directly related to the PTSD itself, but rather to the side effects of it. For example, feelings of anxiety, fear, or stress cause anger in some people with PTSD. And if there is a combination of disorders, such as anxiety or depression, the severity of the anger could significantly increase. 

Another reason someone with PTSD might be quick to anger is called hyperarousal. The basic description of this is a constant state of "fight or flight" response. This causes heightened anxiety and can affect all sorts of things in your partner's life. To feel constantly on guard around your loved ones causes great distress. This makes it so that even the smallest of inconveniences could cause a grand reaction in someone who is struggling with PTSD.

Psychologists have found that with the correct intervention, these symptoms and results can be improved. This means that the constant anger that you and your partner may be dealing with doesn't have to last forever. You can reach out and get the help you need to have a brighter tomorrow. The road won't always be a simple one to go down, but you can overcome this together. As long as you are willing to put in the work, the benefits you are likely to experience will be well worth it in the end.

Inconsistent Behavior

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks. Flashbacks can happen at any time, including both during waking hours and during sleep via strong dreams, and can show up as a result of things you may not even notice. To a hyper-aware individual with PTSD, a trigger may be something as simple as a car driving by. When something is seen or heard that brings your partner back to their time of trauma, their behavior might change. This could be a result of your partner reverting to the time they are experiencing. It also might be a manifestation of pure anxiety or other raw feelings that are being experienced at the time of this flashback.

Another common symptom of PTSD is experiencing intense emotions. Because of the state of hyperarousal that your loved one is often in, they might be super in tune with their emotions. This can be a good thing when you are both in a good place mentally. This means the positive things and emotions you experience could be extra rewarding and exciting for them. When you have an argument or are in bad spirits, though, this may not feel like such a good thing.

Extreme feelings of regret, sadness, or guilt are extremely common among the community of people who struggle with PTSD. These feelings can pop up out of nowhere and for seemingly no reason at all at times. When you are in a relationship with a person who exhibits these behaviors, it can be difficult to make out their reasoning for acting this way. The best way to cope and help your partner with this is to listen and let your partner explain their feelings and thoughts. Sometimes, it may be beneficial to provide them with some space to come down from the feelings of strong anxiety, sadness, anger, or whatever emotional state was triggered for them so that they can process this and not react to you from that hyperemotional state.

If you are being overwhelmed with the effects of PTSD, psychologists and counselors can help. PTSD has been studied immensely over the last several decades and is deeply understood by professionals. So many different strategies and approaches can be implemented into your relationship that can help you cope and understand your partner. If you are unsure how to be the support person your partner needs, a psychologist or counselor can also help you navigate that. No matter how confused or unsure you might be, finding a professional can help. The only thing you must do is decide what path is right for you.

When To Get Help

PTSD Can Be Challenging For You And Your Partner To Cope With

PTSD is very complex and can lead to many negative behaviors and outcomes if left untreated. PTSD has the ability to bleed into virtually all aspect of one’s life, often at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. You should consult the help of a trained professional or seek PTSD counseling if you or your loved one suspects they are struggling with this disorder so that you can better understand yourself, your partner, the disorder, and any associated difficulties that already do or may arise.

If you have decided that you are ready to see PTSD focused counselors or psychologists, but aren't sure where to start, try ReGain. This online therapy platform offers the help of trained professionals at any time of the day or night. If you have any questions or concerns about being their support person, a therapist can also help you navigate that, as well.

Being in a relationship with someone who has PTSD, or having PTSD yourself and trying to maintain relationships, is not always easy. Professional guidance can help you healthily, mindfully navigate PTSD and your relationships. You will thank yourself later!

FAQs

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