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How to Handle a Loved One with PTSD and the Danger Signs of Relapse

How To Handle A Loved One With PTSD And The Danger Signs Of Relapse

If you are in a relationship with someone dealing with PTSD, you face unique challenges. Not only do you want to care for and nurture your loved one who is dealing with this condition, you also have to take care of the particular burdens this condition brings you both.

PTSD is at the root of many common issues individuals face, including failed relationships, divorce, loss of friendships and social connections. Additionally, drug and alcohol abuse are very common among those that suffer from PTSD, known as “co-occurance.” Those living with PTSD don’t have to suffer alone. Their loved ones, as well as qualified support groups, can help.

Dealing with Your Loved One’s PTSD

In a relationship where one party has PTSD, it is easy to feel lost and shut out. The other person may shut down out of fear, embarrassment, or frustration. Additionally, in some cases, when PTSD causes violent behavior related to flashbacks or substance abuse, the partner may begin to feel afraid of the person with PTSD. These situations don’t mean hope is lost for handling his or her PTSD, but they do show the need for intervention and special care.

Learn More About Extended Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Who Is at Risk for PTSD?

PTSD And The Danger Signs Of Relapse You likely already know that veterans and any first responders are at increased risk for PTSD, due to the traumatic scenes they witness and take part in while on active duty. However, there are several other groups of people commonly diagnosed with PTSD, including:

  • National Guardsmen and veterans who do not see active duty
  • Individuals who have been in a bad car accident
  • Survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, or other types of abuse
  • Individuals who had a terrifying or near-death experience
  • Disaster relief workers
  • Search and rescue workers

Though these groups are at a much greater risk for developing the condition, anyone can develop PTSD after a trauma, or any event perceived as highly traumatic. As PTSD is diagnosed more frequently, it is increasingly a less stigmatized condition. When in a relationship with someone with PTSD, it is helpful to remind him or her that many people are struggling, and the condition doesn’t make him or her abnormal or burdensome.

Tips for Dealing with His or Her PTSD

There are many ways you can offer support to a partner with PTSD. Some ways are obvious, while others are ones you may not have yet considered. Here are a few tips for living every day life with someone with PTSD:

  • Don’t fall into the habit of avoiding social situations. People struggling with PTSD often feel guilt and anger because of what is happening inside them. This may make them want to hide or act reclusive towards family or friends they once loved spending time with — it may even prevent him or her from wanting to spend time with you. Pushing too hard, however, can make your partner feel like you do not understand. Instead, regularly encourage them to get out.
  • Suggest physical activities, such as jogging, hiking, or playing golf – whatever your partner enjoys. Physical activity boosts mood and lowers stress. The peace and familiarity of activities he or she enjoyed before PTSD are a great place to start.
  • Create a safe environment. Individuals dealing with PTSD need to feel safe in the home. This may warrant a move to a less chaotic location, or installing a home security system. However, safety is not all about tangible protection. In some cases, safety means knowing that you (their partner) will not abandon them during the darkest hours of PTSD. Don’t forget to remind them regularly that you are going to help see them through, and that their condition won’t “scare you away.” Additionally, know PTSD danger signs and how to keep yourself safe if your partner turns violent during a flashback.
  • Take care of yourself. The task of taking care of a partner with PTSD can feel all-consuming. However, your needs matter as well. Forcing down your feelings and constantly putting yourself last will only lead to exhaustion, and possibly resentment. Remember to take time to rest, keep in touch with your friends (even if your partner is not feeling social), and do the things you enjoy. Engage in self-care, social activities, and relax when needed. Your partner is better when you’re at your best, and likely does not want you to suffer because of his or her condition.

PTSD Relapse Signs

When an individual feels that progress is made in getting livelihood back after PTSD, there is always the chance of relapse or never fully eliminating symptoms and triggers. Relapse signs are different for everyone, however here are a few common signs to look out for:

  • Avoidance
  • Hyper-arousal, which is a feeling of constantly being “on-guard” and unable to rest
  • Depression and distance
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Increased frequency of attacks and flashbacks

Support and Treatment for His or Her PTSD

Maryland Recovery offers programs and support groups that benefit those struggling with PTSD, as well as their loved ones. They understand the unique challenges veterans and others dealing with PTSD face.

Support Is Here

  • "Maryland Recovery gave me the tools and counseling to accept my past and forge a new future for myself. Life today has a hope and brightness to it that had not experienced before. I got a job and an apartment with the help of Maryland Recovery. I am able to be part of my family’s life again."
  • "I am certain that this program helped save my life. I was provided with an opportunity to learn how to live a sober life. I learned to be responsible and accountable for my behavior. When practicing the principles of the program and remaining willing to grow on this journey, I experience a freedom I never knew, but always wanted."
  • "The only things that I knew when I arrived at Maryland Recovery (MR) was that I was broken: spiritually, emotionally, and physically broken and that my way of doing things had gotten me there. The people at MR understood who I was better than I did. They assured me that I was not alone, with that came a glimpse of hope and some relief."
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