In What Ways Can PTSD Impact Intimate Relationships?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that can severely impact daily life, making it difficult to connect with loved ones, perform job functions, and experience what each day has to fully offer. If you have difficulty sleeping at night, if you feel paranoid, overly anxious or agitated, isolated, or find yourself living in constant fear, you may be suffering from PTSD. Know that you are not alone.

What Causes PTSD?

Did you know that an estimated 8% of Americans have PTSD at any given time? There are a number of situations that can trigger PTSD, either through direct, secondary, or even community impact events. When PTSD occurs, it can be a scary and isolating experience, and loved ones may not be able to grasp the pain that a person feels from these traumatic events. Because of this, loved ones may be unable to immediately provide the support needed for full healing and restoration, and these issues can bleed out into other intimate relationships.

Relationships & PTSD

With intimate relationships, our innermost fears and desires are often exposed. Subtle cues can signal to our significant other that something is wrong, but they may not always be able to tell what we’re going through. PTSD can have a detrimental impact on relationships, and if not treated appropriately, PTSD can cause us to dismiss our loved ones by neglecting to remain vulnerable with them; in turn, disastrous consequences can ensue. Without seeking treatment for PTSD, a person may stop having intimate experiences with their significant other.

They may pull away, physically and emotionally, withdrawing love and energy, and leaving their loved one feeling emotionally (and/or physically) abandoned. Conversations may become short and simple, and a person’s aggravation may stir up fights in the relationship, causing additional strain. Substance abuse can lead to further violence and/or disorders and, if untreated, PTSD can worsen over time.

Support Makes A Difference

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that for many, self-disclosure doesn’t always equal lessen intensity in PTSD symptoms – but increased support and community does. Being validated has been shown to decrease anger, help increase happiness and help to reduce other negative emotions. By working with your partner, instead of against them, you’re more likely to not only strengthen your loving bond and connection with them, but also to heal. Love, kindness, and compassion can help anyone suffering from PTSD to feel safe, and in time, begin to heal.

Ways to provide love and support to your loved one, if they are suffering from PTSD:

  • Remove Pressure — don’t feel the need to pressure your loved one into talking, be willing to listen and check in. Let them know you’re there to listen if, or when, they are ready, but don’t push them to open up..  
  • Keep Your Regular Routines — Doing typical or regular activities with your loved one is a great way to be together, and it’s also a way to keep a sense of normalcy.
  • Follow Their Cues — Allow your loved one to take the lead. They know, or will learn, what helps them feel safe. Let them tell you what they need.
  • Take Care of Yourself — Self-care is essential, and the healthier you are, the better you will be to help guide and care for your loved one.
  • Give Grace — To yourself for when you get frustrated and to your loved when if they have set backs. Recovery is a journey, and with any journey there can be bumps in the road along the way.
  • Educate Yourself — The more you know about PTSD, the better you can understand and empathize with what your loved one is going through.

If you suffer from PTSD, give yourself permission to focus on your healing. Your restoration is important and so are you. You have the right to put yourself and your relationship first, and begin your journey to recovery today.

 

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