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PTSD and Relationships: Supporting a Veteran Loved One

OCTOBER 17, 2017 | 4-minute read

Tass noticed it when they left the house: Her husband, Anthony, would just be on edge. He was uncomfortable in crowds, and sometimes, in the middle of the night, he would jump up and talk in his sleep.

Anthony, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and husband of Tass

When we … go out to public places, it just doesn’t go well for him,” Tass says. “Just being out there in a crowd of people, it’s very leery for him, and very frightening.”

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest itself in many ways and affect Veterans’ relationships with their loved ones. For Tass and Anthony, a former Marine, identifying PTSD and understanding the signs and symptoms were important first steps in finding support.

Eventually, they both met with a doctor to discuss the effects of PTSD on their relationship. Tass’ participation helped the doctor better understand Anthony’s symptoms and recommend effective treatment. It taught her the value in speaking up.

“I noticed that he opens up and he likes talking to [his therapist],” Tass says. “When he comes home, he’s … more talkative, relaxed, energetic …”

Identifying Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

One of the first steps toward mental health recovery is identifying signs and symptoms. Explore the following list of signs and symptoms to help determine if a loved one may be experiencing PTSD:

  • Feeling upset by things that remind you of a disturbing event
  • Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
  • Feeling emotionally cut off from others
  • Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
  • Feeling constantly on guard
  • Feeling irritated or having angry outbursts
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Being jumpy or easily startled

The symptoms above can also lead to:

  • Frequently avoiding places or things that remind you of what happened
  • Consistently drinking or using drugs to numb your feelings
  • Considering harming yourself or others
  • Working all the time to occupy your mind
  • Pulling away from other people and becoming isolated

Various forms of treatment have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. For example, professional counseling can help people with PTSD understand their thoughts and reactions and learn techniques for coping with challenging situations.

You can use our resource locator below to find care providers in your area. They can work with you to determine how to help a loved one with PTSD so you can take the first step toward seeking help.


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