People who have lived through a frightening ordeal that threatened or caused physical harm may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Long after the event or situation is over, a person with PTSD continues to feel overwhelming fear, shock, or panic that makes normal life impossible.
PTSD is probably best known among veterans who experienced battle or conflict, but it is also common in people who have been assaulted or lived through a natural disaster, accident, or unexpected death of a loved one. Any life event that feels uncontrollable or unpredictable can create PTSD.
PTSD can significantly contribute to relationship problems that lead to divorce. It is challenging to resume daily life and have a normal relationship after experiencing a trauma that just won’t let go of you.
A little known fact is that some people suffer PTSD specifically due to their divorce and the problems that led up to it. Domestic abuse can be a trigger for PTSD. A high-conflict divorce (even one without physical violence) can also create lasting trauma that makes it difficult to recover. Custody cases can become emotionally overwhelming, leading to PTSD. Children can also experience PTSD.
People with PTSD not only continue to relive the upsetting event but often are unable to interact with others and control their emotions and reactions.
There are physical effects from PTSD as well, leading to long-term health problems. Many veterans who experience traumatic brain injuries also experience PTSD. The condition is also associated with drug and alcohol abuse.
All of this can contribute to the demise of a relationship or marriage, linking PTSD to divorce for many families.
PTSD is treatable with medications and therapy, and many excellent programs have helped thousands with this disorder. Some are designed for the unique experiences of veterans, while others offer help for anyone experiencing the disorder.
Resources are available from:
If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is important to get help as soon as possible. The sooner the disorder is treated, the easier it is to control. Unfortunately PTSD gets worse with avoidance, so confronting the problem is the only way to manage it.