PTSD and Relationships

Many people find their relationships are affected by PTSD. Trauma can leave you feeling that you aren’t safe, and that your future is uncertain. You may find yourself feeling vulnerable, helpless, and unable to trust your spouse, even if you thought s/he was trustworthy in the past. You may feel easily threatened, or that you don’t want to be close to anyone ever again for fear of being hurt. Or, you may become controlling of others as you try to gain control over the things going on in your life.

You may feel shame, unlovable, or guilt related to the trauma. You may feel that no one understands what you’ve been through. You may fear sharing your feelings with others and hurting them through vicarious traumatization.

Isolation becomes a necessary way of life, and it leaves you feeling disconnected from others. You may feel abandoned. You may not feel anything at all, either good or bad, becoming numb. As a result, you have trouble relating with others and expressing any feeling.

Relationships can be difficult when PTSD is present, but treatment can help. Talk to someone: your doctor, clergy, health clinic, group members, or mental health worker. The situation can be improved. PTSD is treatable!

PTSD vs PTSD

Each of us who knows what it is like living with PTSD finds our own path through it. As we are individuals in every other area of life, we are also individual in the way we respond to having PTSD; how symptoms affect us, how we cope, and how we view the experience.

I have a good friend who has PTSD from his time in the military. His sister has it from being abused as a child. My friend thought she should be on the same page he was because they both have the same disorder. He was frustrated that her coping styles were often maladaptive and weren’t the same as the ones he used. We had quite a discussion on how two people can have the same problem, yet experience it in totally different ways and cope with it in different ways.

For example, her coping mechanisms developed when she was a child, while his were learned as an adult. There is a huge difference there! Yes, some of her ways of coping are maladaptive, but she was totally powerless against her abuser and had no one to help her learn to protect herself.

Having PTSD doesn’t mean we are all going to be alike in our symptoms or our strategies for coping. We will all find our way through as best we can and in light of who we are and what we have to work with.   Fortunately, as we grow, we can all learn new ways to cope and manage our symptoms.

Why are you Angry?

When you have PTSD, you are in a heightened state of arousal; this is part of the “fight or flight” response to danger. With PTSD, fight or flight doesn’t go away when the danger is gone. It hangs around leaving us in a constant state of alertness. This arousal can affect our sleep, irritability and hypervigilance.

This heightened state of arousal can lead to excessive anger. When that anger gets out of control, it can affect your relationships and you may become aggressive toward others or develop self-destructive behaviors. Substance abuse may be a part of your response, or you may find you want to hurt yourself.

If you are experiencing intense anger, learn to use anger management techniques. You may want to try mindfulness, or talking through your anger with someone you respect. Deep breathing exercises can calm your body. Focusing on something other than your anger can help too. Developing ways to manage your anxiety may also be helpful as intense anger and anxiety are similar emotions that are involved in the fight or flight response.

PTSD intensifies anger. Learning to manage your rage can improve relationships and self-esteem. Take the time to learn ways you can try to manage your anger. Not all of them may work for you, but don’t give up! There are many ways to cope with the anger in PTSD and it’s worthwhile finding them.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

If you have diabetes, statistically you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease too.

High blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the main factors that play into increasing your risk of a heart attack.

Having high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can all result in an increase in plaques on the walls of your arteries. This makes blood flow more difficult.

If you have high blood sugar, pressure or cholesterol to begin with, certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing heart disease. If you smoke, it also increases the build-up of plaque on artery walls. In addition, it causes narrowing of the arteries which increases blood pressure.

Lack of exercise contributes to the problem too. When you do not maintain a healthy level of exercise, your blood pressure increases and the added weight you carry makes it more difficult for your body to use the insulin it is producing.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower risk factors. The first, of course, is to stop smoking.

Keep track of your blood sugar levels and make lifestyle changes to keep blood sugar down.

Monitor your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. If necessary, change your diet and seek other ways to keep them under control.

Take your medications as directed by your physician. Find a way to remind yourself when it’s time to take them and take the correct dosage. Don’t make changes without consulting your doctor first.

Focus on maintain a healthy diet, eating foods that are low fat, low sugar and are healthy for you.

Get plenty of exercise! Being active helps you keep your weight down and strengthens your heart. Exercising can also help your body release chemicals that lift your mood and help you feel better.