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  • Writer's pictureamandaemoule

PTSD/CPTSD and Relationships

Updated: Sep 6, 2023



Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or (CPTSD) can significantly impact relationships. PTSD or CPTSD Are mental health conditions that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event or mofe then one ongoing event.


It can affect various aspects of a person's life, including their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.



Here are some ways in which PTSD can impact relationships:


1. Communication difficulties:

Individuals with PTSD may have difficulty expressing their thoughts and emotions, leading to communication challenges with their partners. They may struggle to discuss their traumatic experiences or may become withdrawn and emotionally distant.


2. Emotional numbing:

People with PTSD may experience emotional numbing as a coping mechanism. They may have difficulty experiencing positive emotions or connecting emotionally with their partners, which can strain the relationship.


3. Hypervigilance and irritability:

PTSD can lead to hypervigilance , where individuals are constantly on the lookout for potential threats. This heightened state of arousal can manifest as irritability, anger, or being easily startled. Such reactions can create tension and conflicts within relationships.


4. Avoidance behaviors:

Some individuals with PTSD may engage in avoidance behaviors to cope with reminders of their trauma. This can include avoiding certain places, activities, or discussions related to the traumatic event. These avoidance behaviors can limit the individual's ability to engage in shared activities and may create a sense of distance in the relationship.


5. Trust issues:

Traumatic experiences can shatter a person's sense of safety and trust. Individuals with PTSD may struggle to trust others, including their partners. They may have difficulty relying on others for support, which can strain the relationship.


6. Emotional support:

Partners of individuals with PTSD may find it challenging to provide the necessary emotional support. They may feel helpless or overwhelmed by the intense emotions, flashbacks, or nightmares experienced by their loved ones.


It's important to note that while PTSD can pose challenges to relationships, with understanding, patience, and professional support, healthy and fulfilling relationships are possible.


Here are some suggestions for supporting a partner with PTSD:


1. Educate yourself:

Learn about PTSD and its symptoms to better understand what your partner is going through. This knowledge can help you provide appropriate support and reduce misunderstandings.


2. Encourage professional help:

Encourage your partner to seek therapy or counseling from a mental health professional who specializes in trauma. Therapy can provide them with coping strategies and help them manage their symptoms.


3. Practice patience and empathy:

Be patient with your partner and try to understand their experiences. Validate their feelings and emotions, even if you don't fully understand them. Avoid judgment or criticism.


4. Improve communication:

Foster open and honest communication with your partner. Encourage them to share their thoughts and emotions, but also respect their boundaries if they need time alone. Be a good listener and provide a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves.


5. Establish routines and boundaries: Establishing routines and boundaries can provide a sense of stability and predictability, which can be helpful for individuals with PTSD. Discuss and agree upon boundaries that respect both partners' needs.


6. Seek support for yourself:

Caring for a partner with PTSD can be challenging, so it's essential to take care of yourself too. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups to help you navigate the difficulties you may encounter.


Remember that every individual with PTSD is unique, and the impact on relationships can vary. It's crucial to seek professional help to develop a tailored approach to support your partner and your relationship.


Last but but just as important is


Take care of yourself here are some important factors for your mental health.


Ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout and may even lead to secondary traumatization. You can develop your own trauma symptoms from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to disturbing symptoms like flashbacks and sometimes can feel overwhelming at times . Self care is important.


The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk is that you'll become traumatized. In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul and lower your risk for secondary traumatization, you have to nurture and care for yourself.


Take care of your physical needs: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat properly, and look after any medical issues.


Cultivate your own support system. Lean on other family members, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community. Talking about your feelings and what you're going through can be very cathartic.


Make time for your own life. Don't give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. It's important to have things in your life that you look forward to.


Spread the responsibility. Ask other family members and friends for assistance so you can take a break. You may also want to seek out respite services in your community.


Set boundaries. Be realistic about what you're capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them.


Amanda Moule, RTC


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