The impact of PTSD on relationships

Posttraumatic stress is more prevalent among the veteran community than the general population. The more you know about posttraumatic stress, the easier it is to live a more normal life with someone who has PTSD.

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Some of the symptoms of PTSD affect relationships

Some aspects of PTSD, like the distressing memories, hyperarousal (the feeling of being wound up all the time) and the tendency to avoid things, can be especially problematic for families.

Hyperarousal can contribute to aggression and domestic violence, while avoidance can get in the way of intimacy between a veteran and their partner, and tends to reduce relationship satisfaction.

Partners can also experience anxiety, depression, social isolation and feelings of hopelessness as a result of their partner’s trauma and subsequent mental illness. Partners of veterans with PTSD often talk about ‘walking on eggshells’ around their partner and being afraid of their symptoms.

Getting help

Seek help if you or someone you know might have PTSD. Start by visiting a GP. Your GP may refer you to specialists (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health social worker) to help you with your unique situation.

If you have served one day in the ADF, you are eligible for:

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly VVCS) supports defence members, ex-serving members, veterans and their families with counselling for individuals and group-based programs. Call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 for free and confidential counselling support.

Coping with trauma in a military family

'Supporting your partner' is a book from the 'Coping with trauma in a military family' series. The booklet will help you to understand the impact of trauma on relationships. You’ll find advice for looking after yourself and for helping your partner manage his or her symptoms. It also provides some ideas for keeping your relationship strong.

This booklet is for the partners of serving, transitioning, or ex-serving members of the ADF who have been affected by trauma.

If you need support in managing you or your partners PTSD. Call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 to help strengthen your relationship.