How PTSD Hurts Relationships

How PTSD Hurts Relationships

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a devastating psychological disorder that has the power to destroy a person’s life. Experiencing trauma overwhelms the emotional functions of a person, which causes the individual to essentially shut down emotionally.

The unprocessed, pent-up emotions from the traumatic experience fester in the subconscious region of the brain and can cause a number of terrible symptoms, including the following:

  • Panic attacks
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distance from friends and loved ones
  • Lack of control over emotions and emotional responses
  • Verbal and physical abuse of others
  • Tendencies toward self-destruction
  • Substance abuse
  • Nightmares

People with PTSD can be very hard to live with. Friends and family members often live in fear of the next outburst, even as they want desperately to help. The disorder often leads to addiction and other co-occurring disorders that cause significant pain to all involved.

What Causes PTSD?

PTSD can be caused by any emotionally overwhelming experience. The following is a partial list of the most common types of trauma that can cause PTSD:

  • Warfare
  • Exposure to death, dismemberment or other violence
  • Proximity to explosions
  • Surviving natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes or fires
  • Being victimized by violent crime, such as rape, assault or robbery
  • Long-term low-level stress caused by bullying, verbal abuse or neglect
  • Concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI)

While PTSD is a tragically common condition for soldiers, paramedics, firemen and law enforcement officers to experience, anyone can be exposed to sudden trauma and develop the disorder.

Can PTSD Be Treated?

While there is no known cure for PTSD, there are several specialized types of counseling that can help a person manage the symptoms effectively. The key to treating PTSD is to allow the brain to process the pent-up emotions caused by the trauma.

Some of the most effective treatment techniques include the following:

  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Psychodynamic therapy

There are also benefits to certain medical treatments. Recovery professionals can help you find the best treatment plan for your unique needs. In time and with help, you will find that your relationships can be repaired and will often be a critical component of your ongoing recovery.