For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the term posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is probably the military. Known as shell shock during World War I and combat fatigue during World War II, PTSD is often associated with the horrors of war and combat. This association is not without reason. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 30% of Vietnam War veterans have suffered from PTSD. Additionally, about 12% of veterans from the Gulf War and 11-20% of veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom have PTSD during a given year.
However, PTSD is not limited to just veterans; anyone can get PTSD. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association estimated that PTSD affects approximately 3.5% of adults, and about one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime. If your partner is suffering from PTSD, it can be difficult to assist them on the road to recovery. Use this blog as a guide to PTSD and how you can help your partner cope.
Does your partner have PTSD or are they exhibiting symptoms of the condition? The team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates can help. Our practice aims to provide comprehensive outpatient behavioral health and psychiatric care for adults. Mohammad Munir, MD and the rest of our staff work with each patient to create an integrative treatment plan that will best treat their unique needs. We’ll make sure you and your partner learn how to control and overcome PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition or psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Although often associated with danger, PTSD can be caused by non-violent, yet still shocking, events. Examples of occurrences that may cause PTSD include:
- Natural disasters
- Serious accidents
- Terrorist acts
- Other violent personal assault
- Unexpected death of a loved one
PTSD can be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The development of PTSD
Most people begin to show symptoms of PTSD within three months of the traumatic event; this doesn’t mean that PTSD can’t develop years afterward. Symptoms must persist for at least a month and interfere with the patient’s daily life before an official PTSD diagnosis.
The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has found that symptoms often vary in severity. Some patients see their symptoms gradually dissipate over time while others only experience symptoms with certain triggers. In some cases, symptoms can last a lifetime.
It’s totally normal for anyone to feel fear immediately after a traumatic event. Fear triggers our fight-or-flight sense that jumpstarts the release of certain hormones and increases our alertness, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. With time, most people will begin to feel better — but people with PTSD don’t get this relief. There are four main categories of PTSD symptoms:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Avoiding reminders
- Negative thoughts and feelings
- Arousal and reactive symptoms
Each of these symptoms can manifest in multiple ways and everyone experiences a unique mix of them.
What you can do
Life isn’t easy when dealing with PTSD, and this condition does affect a patient’s partner. Two big parts of loving someone with PTSD are patience and understanding. Make sure you listen to your partner and try to understand that this trauma can’t be erased or simply fixed. Additionally, know that the fear experienced with PTSD is very real, no matter how irrational it may seem. Couples and Family psychotherapy, which Boston Neurobehavioral Associates offers, can also help couples manage PTSD together.
If your partner has PTSD, there are things you can do to help them cope. Boston Neurobehavioral Associates is here to make sure the journey is as smooth as possible. Contact us today by calling one of our offices or using our convenient online form to request an appointment.