PTSD Spouses-How To Support

August 29, 2011

It is easy for everyone to say what you should do but you are in the soup now and it isn’t as easy as they say.  The first problem is the greatest problem, I think.  That is to get your spouse to admit that he/she is having problem with PTSD.  This is similar to the alcoholic or drug addict that tries to convince everyone that they are fine and can stop whenever they choose.  You may see the symptoms much quicker than the actual PTSD sufferer will admit to.  The quicker you can find help for your mate, the better.  Remember PTSD will not go away by itself and it is more likely that it will get worse if left untreated. Any day can produce a catastrophic event that will change your families life forever so you cannot afford to wait it out.

Where you seek help is not as important, at least in the beginning, as getting your spouse to admit that they need help.  Often the sufferer will complain about the mental health provider because the treatment is not working quick enough.  I’ve discussed our societies quick fix mentality wanting everything and wanting it now.  Unfortunately there are no “Quick Fixes” in the PTSD curing process.  Improvement will take time and work to put horrible experiences in their place.  Remember you are a sum of your experiences and this PTSD experience is a very powerful one and it will take time to feel more normal but there are many success stories in this struggle and you can be successful too.

In the mean time, what can you do? One of the quite normal side affects of PTSD are the Flashbacks.   Flashbacks are not the same as an epileptic seizures but most mental health professionals  consider them just as sudden, violent and dibilitating as one.  So you, as the significant other, need to be careful with what you say or do regarding the PTSD flashbck experiences.  It is quite easy to inadvertently instigate one by accident.

If your partner is suffering from PTSD flashbacks ask them if it is comforting for you to be there during one or not.  Listen to the answers and act accordingly.  Be sure not to ask for the details since this could trigger additional flashbacks.  Mostly you need to capitalize on the trust that your mate has in you and try to build on that trust.  Mostly you need to be a good listener and not offer too much advice. Other symptoms and effects will be covered in subsequent posts.

Our Military PTSD Forum site is the best listener.  It never criticizes, censures, edits or offers advice.  It is simply a vehicle to help you in your efffort to help your mate.  The site is entirely free and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The best disinfectant is sunlight.