The Influence of PTSD on Emotional Trauma in Relationships
PTSD and relationships can be complicated. Any mental health disorder can strongly impact relationships and post-traumatic stress disorder is no exception. Whether talking about combat PTSD and relationships or complex PTSD and relationships, the reality for many couples is that PTSD and romantic relationships can be difficult — and even overwhelming at times.
PTSD involves many symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic, nightmares, and trauma reliving. These symptoms can become so severe that the individual finds it hard to manage activities of daily life. Some individuals with the disorder may become debilitated by severe mental health symptoms, which makes it difficult to go to work, care for other family members, or effectively care for themselves. The individual’s partner may find that they are tasked with more responsibility and stress, which can take a toll on a relationship.
Like any illness, a mental illness requires effective management to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. A person with PTSD isn’t likely to be cured, so their condition must be managed for individuals to enjoy greater normalcy and improved well-being. Supporting someone with an illness like PTSD involves stress — sometimes tremendous stress. A caregiving partner might find that their relationship needs are unmet. They may find that their support for their loved one doesn’t relieve symptoms.
Dealing with PTSD and Relationships: Addressing Avoidance and Shutdown Issues
If you are in a romantic relationship that PTSD impacts, Alter Mental Health can help. Our clinicians are licensed and experienced, possessing the expertise to support couples grappling with the effects of PTSD, including understanding the development of PTSD. We have the expertise to help couples who are struggling with the effects of PTSD. We help couples develop better awareness and coping strategies that support their well-being as a couple and as individuals.
PTSD is caused by trauma, but the traumatic effects of the condition might not remain in the past. PTSD can lead to traumatic relationship experiences that can have detrimental effects. Although both individuals may understand logically how PTSD and its symptoms can disrupt their relationship, coping with symptoms of mental health and their consequences can still be emotionally taxing.
For instance, a person with PTSD may wish to avoid social interactions whenever possible. They may be unwilling to accompany their partner to family or community events, leaving the partner feeling lonely or sad. However, the effects of PTSD on relationships can be even more emotionally traumatic. It’s not uncommon for people with the disorder to have angry outbursts. They may say or do something that results in a traumatic experience for their partner. Their partner’s response may leave the individual with PTSD feeling more emotionally upset.
A person with PTSD may find managing their emotions difficult or even impossible. Feelings of anger and fear can cause them to behave in unstable ways. This instability can take a toll on a partner. The partner may experience trauma and considerable stress that affects their well-being. Emotional trauma and relationships can be tough to navigate, but Alter Mental Health can help.
PTSD: why they shut you out is a topic many partners struggle with when coping with their partner’s mental health disorder. Many people with PTSD without mental health treatment may find it hard to discuss their trauma, leaving their partner feeling left out and unable to provide adequate support. PTSD and intimacy avoidance are not uncommon, but navigating the challenges is tough for couples who experience a lack of intimacy that may impact them both emotionally and physically.
The fact is, symptoms of PTSD such as panic and depression do not lend themselves to romance. The fallout associated with PTSD-inducing trauma can leave an individual struggling to cope with their memories and thoughts, which precludes them from focusing on their relationship and their partner’s needs in many cases. Without treatment and effective condition management, the couple may not experience relief, resulting in improved intimacy.
PTSD and Relationships: Coping with Complex PTSD’s Impact on Marital Bonds
Complex PTSD is typically diagnosed in association with long-term trauma. For instance, it may involve a type of abuse that lasted for years. Complex PTSD usually includes severe symptoms that can have a strong effect on marital relationships as well as other relationships. Because PTSD is a chronic condition, it tends to require life-long management. Stress can trigger symptoms of PTSD even after it’s been well managed.
As many couples can attest, marriage involves stress–often life stress–that can impact the relationship. For a couple coping with PTSD, those stressors can be incredibly challenging. Someone with PTSD may find that symptom management is difficult. As weeks, months, or years go by, the marriage can suffer from the perpetual stress associated with these symptoms and their management. Complex PTSD and marriage breakdown are factors in therapy sessions. At Alter Mental Health, clinicians know how the condition can impact marriage. Our therapists work with couples to help them manage their challenges to improve — even save — the relationship.
PTSD and Relationships: Strategies for Navigating When Someone with PTSD Pushes You Away
Someone with PTSD may struggle with intimacy issues. If you know what to do when someone with PTSD pushes you away, you can benefit from professional therapy and guidance. A person with PTSD may experience symptoms of depression. A hallmark of depression is to withdraw from family and friends. This is not uncommon for individuals with PTSD. These individuals understand that they are different–their experiences have left them feeling separate from those who do not and, seemingly, cannot share their past experiences.
But what can the partner of someone with PTSD do when they’re pushed away? What are the best responses in these situations? One important thing a spouse can do is keep the lines of communication open. Although they may be unable to compel their partner to talk to them, they can assure them that they are open to talking when and if they are ever ready to open up. For a person with PTSD, talking about their experiences can seem fraught with fear, but they may feel relief knowing they can talk to their partner if they ever choose to.
A partner can also recommend therapy designed to help them both. Therapists often support families struggling with a loved one’s mental illness. Mental health professionals can help couples navigate the challenges associated with broken lines of communication. They can help couples contend with other issues that impact their marriage.
Couples or even individual partners struggling with the effects of PTSD may also want to consider joining support groups to help them cope with their circumstances. Learning from other people coping with similar situations and sharing positive relationships and communication strategies can be helpful.
PTSD and Relationships: Understanding and Avoiding Detrimental Actions in Relationships Affected by PTSD
Stress can make anyone act out in ways that are potentially harmful to others. The worst thing to do to someone with PTSD, for instance, maybe to yell at them. Yelling and shouting may be a substantial trigger for their condition. Loud noises are often detrimental for individuals with combat-related PTSD. Rather than shouting, it’s more helpful to speak quietly to someone who has PTSD.
It can also be unhelpful to push someone with PTSD into situations that trigger their symptoms. If they are new to therapy, they may not be ready to cope with their triggers healthily. It takes time for a person to learn how to cope with their stressors. Be sure to give your loved one time to learn and practice these strategies. If possible, try to avoid exacerbating your loved one, as heightened stress can trigger PTSD symptoms.
At Alter Mental Health, we treat many mental health disorders. If you and your partner are struggling to manage PTSD successfully, reach out to Alter Mental Health and let us provide you with the help you need to resolve symptoms and achieve improved well-being. You can improve the condition’s management and support your marriage with therapy. Call us to learn more about our mental health treatments.
FAQs About PTSD and Relationships
What is PTSD and how can it affect relationships?
PTSD is a mental health disorder that is caused by experiencing or witnessing trauma. It can impact relationships because it can profoundly impact the well-being of the individual diagnosed with the disorder, and the symptoms the individual experiences can impact their partner. Symptoms of PTSD can be severe and prolonged. Coping with these symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic, loss of interest in sex, self-medicating behaviors, angry outbursts, and flashbacks can be difficult for both partners to cope with.
A relationship that is already stressed or prone to poor communication may find that navigating PTSD is impossible without professional guidance. With professional support, partners may be able to work through their issues and get help with coping with the symptoms of PTSD.
How does combat PTSD impact relationships?
PTSD can have a dramatic impact on relationships. It can impact the way couples communicate. The disorder can affect a couple’s physical and emotional intimacy. Symptoms of PTSD can cause sufferers to display confusing or unpleasant behaviors like angry outbursts. If the individual has combat PTSD, they may find that physical touch or communication is challenging. They may also withdraw into themselves and not want to participate in family or social events.
What are the signs of PTSD in romantic relationships?
A relationship that involves a partner with PTSD might experience intimacy issues, especially if one of the individuals has suffered from sexual or physical abuse. The physicality associated with romantic relationships can be problematic for a person with PTSD. Also, someone with PTSD may find it difficult to discuss their emotions as they may try to suppress them. This emotional suppression can carry over into the relationship.
What should I do when someone with PTSD pushes me away?
If your partner with PTSD pushes you away, consider getting therapy or support for yourself. Join a support group. Also, try to give your partner space, but let them know that the lines of communication are open and that you’re there if they need you.
Why does someone with PTSD shut people out?
Someone with PTSD might shut out their loved ones because they struggle to communicate their pain. Their emotional pain may be so intense and so difficult to convey adequately with words that the person doesn’t even try. They might want to suppress any notion of discussing their past trauma.
How can complex PTSD lead to a marriage breakdown?
Complex PTSD involves serious and, often, severe symptoms. It can be challenging for both partners to resolve these issues. Having complex PTSD and struggling with its symptoms can lead a partner to initiate angry outbursts that can take an emotional toll on the other partner. Continued poor communication can lead to marital breakdown.
What is the relationship between PTSD and emotional trauma from relationships?
Relationships can be taxed by the symptoms of PTSD, which can feel traumatic in their own right. Both the person with PTSD and their partner can feel traumatized by the emotional trauma associated with their relationship problems. The emotional trauma can compound problems for each partner, making it harder and harder to save the marriage.
Why might someone with PTSD avoid intimacy, and how can it be addressed?
A person who has PTSD may avoid intimacy because it’s a trigger for their condition and its symptoms. For instance, a person who has been sexually abused may wish to avoid sex. This can be problematic for the other partner. Also, someone with PTSD may find it difficult to discuss intimacy-related issues, which only exacerbates the problem.
Ideally, couples should bring their intimacy issues and problems related to PTSD to a licensed medical health professional. Treatment can provide guidance that helps couples navigate the disease and become more intimate.
Call Alter Mental Health in San Diego at 657-218-5095 to learn more about PTSD and relationships.