PTSD can be caused by many different things, but it often takes a similar toll on relationships no matter who the sufferer is. Because PTSD is caused by trauma or extreme stress, it can lead to trust and communication issues that can break down a relationship; it can create intimacy issues as the sufferer finds they have no interest in being physically close with someone, or it can go the opposite way and the sufferer may feel an intense need to protect his or her loved ones, coming across as demanding or overly assertive.
Whatever caused the trauma, some sufferers find that they cannot stop thinking about the event months or even years afterward and have a hard time talking about their feelings. They may have intense anger or anxiety that causes them to lose sleep or interest in things they once enjoyed, which can lead to a rift in any relationship. Survivors of extreme trauma may push away the people they love because they feel guilty or ashamed, especially those who faced military combat. Having conflicting emotions about the things witnessed or carried out during battle is common in veterans and can also lead to substance abuse. In fact, alcohol abuse is common in veterans.
Drugs and alcohol often play a big role in the destruction of relationships, as it creates trust issues separate from the PTSD and can heighten anger, violence, and problems functioning in school or at work. Substance abuse can increase impulsivity, making it a dangerous combination with PTSD, which already carries the potential for depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s important for PTSD sufferers to seek help for any substance abuse issue right away, separately from any therapy that might address anxiety. Learning healthy ways to cope is essential in repairing and maintaining a good relationship with friends, family, and loved ones.
It may be difficult for spouses, children, or significant others to understand the feelings a PTSD sufferer goes through every day. It might be hard for them to sympathize because they feel like they are being pushed away, or because they don’t believe they can help. Communication is key in any relationship, and this goes double for individuals living with PTSD. It may be helpful to consider attending a therapy session together as well as one-on-one therapy.
It’s important to remember that having a support system is crucial in learning how to cope with PTSD. This includes social interaction as well as personal relationships, so sufferers should attempt to find ways to interact in a comfortable environment. This can include a support group, a book club, or a simple gathering of friends. It’s possible that certain places or people bring up bad memories or feelings of anxiety because they are connected to the event that caused the PTSD, so it’s imperative to consult with a doctor beforehand to find out whether it will be beneficial to treatment; some therapies involve learning to focus the mind and train it to face the bad memories in order to overcome them, but it’s not right for everyone at every stage of PTSD.
PTSD sufferers should always keep in mind that they are not alone, and that there is help available when they are ready to learn to cope.
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