Effects of PTSD on Marriage, Family & Other Relationships
One very common, but often overlooked, effect of PTSD is impact that the disorder has on personal relationships. Symptoms such as persistent irritability and anger volatility can place a strain on relationships, even amongst very patient partners or relatives. Furthermore, PTSD sometimes causes sufferers to become emotionally distant or detached from others. Even where this is not the case “emotional numbing” can create difficulties in intimate relationships.
It can often be helpful for partners, children, or parents of PTSD sufferers to attend a session or two with the treating mental health professional. The therapist or practitioner is frequently able to assist by explaining PTSD and helping family members understand how particular changes in behaviour are due to the disorder. Just understanding this can sometimes help family members to not take things so “personally” and exercise greater patience.
In the case of couples, in addition to the above difficulties, reduced libido and other sexual difficulties may impair a couples sexual relationship. This may add to conflict, communication problems, and lack of emotionally intimacy, especially where the difficulties are protracted. (Where the traumatic experience or experiences involved sexual harm, sexual difficulties may have developed which require specific psychological intervention).
While relationship difficulties will often resolve with time and communication, particularly where PTSD is very short-lived, in some cases relationship counselling might be required. Especially in cases where relationship difficulties are severe and/or protracted, you should consider discussing the matter with your treating therapist to help determine whether relationship therapy would be beneficial.
Some of the below links may help guide you to relationship counselling organisations:
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IMPORTANT NOTE: This page and this site describes general information about PTSD which may not apply to your situation. Information should NOT be used for diagnosis or treatment purposes. You should consult a GP, Clinical Psychologist, or other mental health professional for advice on your symptoms and the most appropriate treatment(s).
For details on finding a PTSD therapist / psychologist in or near your area please click here.
Disclaimer: This site is intended for Australian residents.