Can An Abusive Relationship Result In PTSD?
Approximately 60 to 80 percent of all people who live through a life-threatening experience will experience post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a mental health condition that results from exposure to stressful events, such as natural disasters, war, traffic accidents, and sexual assault. It may also be caused by non-physical, emotional or psychological issues like domestic abuse or witnessing violent events.
What are the Physical Signs?
Symptoms vary but may include the following: feeling angry or upset by memories, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, guilt or self-blame, flashbacks or nightmares, feeling numb, avoiding people or places, being anxious or easily startled, staying in a fight or flight state or practicing addictive behaviors.
Can a Bad Relationship Cause PTSD?
Not only can the PTSD affect relationships and require a lot of patience and understanding from a partner, but stressful relationships can also be a cause of PTSD. Living with emotional or physical abuse can feel like being on a battlefield. Some professionals have suggested a special diagnosis for PTSD disorders that develop over time rather than from a single episode. This type of complex PTSD can result from being held in concentration camps, being detained as a prisoner of war, living with physical or sexual abuse in childhood, sexual abuse, or surviving ongoing domestic or relationship abuse.
People with the chronic PTSD may have difficulty regulating emotions, engaging in interpersonal relationships or trusting themselves.
How is it Treated?
Relationship counselors, such as marriage therapists, use a variety of modalities to treat PTSD, including cognitive behavioral training and psychotherapy. Medications for anxiety and depression may also help, preferably in conjunction with other treatments. Many people also find help from support groups where they meet with a leader and other people dealing with similar issues. The best way for individuals to regain a sense of control is by practicing a combination of these methods as well as self-care. Self-care includes actions like listening to music, meditating, spending time with friends, exercising, keeping a journal, eating a healthy diet, volunteering, and pursuing enjoyable hobbies.
Friends and family members can help those with PTSD by being aware of triggers, such as the anniversary date of a traumatic event or places and people that remind them of their trauma. These send the sufferer back to painful, vivid memories.
PTSD can be stressful for the entire family. The person suffering may need encouragement and assistance to get help. Even if they refuse, other members of the family can also benefit from the treatments described above. PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and it can be managed. Just like any other mental illness, you or your partner needs support and love. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.