The public is no stranger to post-traumatic stress disorder, but knowing how to handle someone suffering from this condition is something most Americans simply aren’t familiar with. While helping or understanding a stranger can be tough enough, living with a spouse who has PTSD can be a waking nightmare if you’re unfamiliar with the symptoms.
It’s estimated that roughly 13 million citizens in the United States are living with PTSD at any given time, which means you’re not alone in this struggle. Regardless of the type of traumatic event that your spouse endured, there are healthy ways to deal with the unpleasantness of symptoms and help see your spouse through this difficult time.
Understanding is Key
The most vital aspect of getting through this chapter in your lives is understanding PTSD and its symptoms. Not every case is the same, with people experience varying symptoms, but there are specific feelings and attitudes that can develop as a result of trauma. These include:
- Reliving the trauma
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Avoiding things that trigger the above
- Becoming emotionally numb
- Turning to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms
- Coping with other addictive behaviors like gambling
- Increased anxiety and irritability
- Severe depression
- Episodes of anger
While none of the above is pleasant to deal with, you have to remember that PTSD affects your spouse’s mental health. Verbal abuse, a lack of interest in intimacy, and the tense anxiety this disorder causes are only a small fraction of how PTSD ruins marriages.
They probably don’t even seem like the same person, but that’s only because of how devastating traumatic events can be. Together, and with the help of therapy, both of you can come out of this stronger.
Help is Vital
Before things get bad enough to end this relationship with a divorce, there are several ways to work on the symptoms of PTSD while helping your spouse overcome it. First, you need to enter individual and couple’s counseling.
Without professional help, most people continue to live with the symptoms as they worsen. Couples counseling can help you both learn to work through the aftermath of the symptoms, but individual counseling is the only your spouse can overcome their PTSD. Therapists can also prescribe medication to help lessen the effects of the disorder.
When to Seek Divorce
In some cases, PTSD symptoms become so severe that it becomes dangerous to remain with the partner. Irritability and episodes of anger can lead to physical violence in the form of spousal abuse. With the impact on their mental health, that violence can leave the effected spouse fighting a murder charge. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon when individuals do not seek help for their symptoms.
If you feel that you are in danger, then you need to get away before your spouse’s violence becomes worse. Women’s shelters, family, and friends can all offer reprieve while you decide on what to do next. Just because your partner is suffering from PTSD does not mean you should endure abuse.