PTSD and 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.

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 (PDF) 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.

See also

  • Trauma and PTSD

    Being emotionally affected by a traumatic event usually settles within a week or two. If it keeps going and causes distress, you might have a problem with posttraumatic stress.
  • Treatment programs and workshops

    Open Arms offers group treatment programs and educational workshops, relationship retreats, and suicide prevention workshops.
  • PTSD coach logo

    PTSD Coach Australia app

    This app was designed specifically for ex and current-serving ADF personnel to learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma.