When someone has PTSD, his or her symptoms often include anger, frustration, withdrawal, and “numbness.” Add in nightmares, sleepless nights, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors and a variety of other problems, and you can understand how it can have a very negative impact on personal relationships.
The reaction by the veteran’s partner may result in symptoms matching those the veteran is experiencing; I’ve had a spouse tell me she suffered PTSD the same as her husband…the difference was that she felt her husband’s PTSD caused her PTSD!
Other feelings that may play a part include detachment, anxiety, and disillusionment with a partner. Since social support is critical to the treatment for PTSD, it is important to keep relationships healthy.
Relationships can counteract feelings of being alone, and may improve the veteran’s level of self-esteem. This in turn may help reduce depression. A relationship can also give the survivor a way to help someone else. Helping others can reduce feelings of failure or feeling cut off from others. Relationships provide a source of support when coping with stress.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, people with PTSD can create and maintain good relationships by:
• Building a personal support network to help cope with PTSD
• Sharing feelings honestly and openly, with respect and compassion
• Building skills at problem solving and connecting with others
• Including ways to play, be creative, relax, and enjoy others
Relationships take work, hard work. But they can be very healing too.