Unfortunately, there has been too little research done yet, on the specific relationship challenges that couples face when one of the partners has PTSD. Some things we do know. From the National Center for PTSD’s research findings on Partners of Veterans with PTSD fact sheet, we learn:
Partners of PTSD-diagnosed veterans often describe:
- Difficulty coping with their partners PTSD symptoms.
- Stress related to their own unmet needs.
- Experiences of physical and emotional violence.
These difficulties may be explained as Secondary Traumatization, which is the indirect impact of trauma on those in close contact with victims.
Alternatively, the partner’s mental health symptoms may be a result of his or her own experiences of trauma, related to living with a veteran with PTSD (e.g., increased risk of domestic violence) or related to a prior trauma.
Caregiver Burden is a name used to categorize the types of difficulties associated with caring for someone with a chronic illness, such as PTSD. These difficulties include financial strain, as well as emotional strain.
According to the experts, the first step for partners of veterans with PTSD, is to gain a better understanding of PTSD and the families by gathering information.
Treatment Options for Caregivers
Effective treatment should include:
- Family psychoeducation.
- Support groups for both partners and veterans.
- Concurrent individual treatment.
- Couple or family therapy.
Fortunately, there are now Veterans Affairs PTSD programs becoming available. Also, Vet Centers are beginning to offer group, couples, and individual programs for families of veterans.
As one who has received counseling in the past, from a Vet Center, I can attest to the tremendous value I gained from the experience. I’m not sure I would have made it through my crisis with my veteran without their help.
I pray that all of you who need help, will reach out and use the resources available to you.
To read the whole article, go to http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/partners_of_vets_research_findings.asp