WHEN YOU LOVE SOMEONE WITH PTSD…. BE PREPARED TO LOVE TWO PEOPLE.
Depending on what your expectations of a relationship are, if you are dating or married to someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, be prepared to get two for the price of one. Your perception of that depends on whether you are a glass is half full or half empty I guess. The families are usually unseen victims because all the focus tends to go on the person diagnosed with the condition.
PTSD has only really got notoriety since the Hillsborough Disaster. It used to be known as “shell shock” and associated with soldiers and the two world wars. It’s the only anxiety disorder that has a known cause and it directly associated with one or several traumas. The emergency services tend to be diagnosed as PDSD which is prolonged duress stress disorder. Complex PTSD is when a person suffers multiple traumas. The most complex cases are when the trauma starts in the formative years when the brain is still developing. Trauma occurring in the formative years can cause a lot of damage to a young mind that can stay undiscovered for years. Children that have suffered a trauma can find it very difficult to tell their parents for fear of their reaction. Particularly where sexual assault is concerned, the victim can experience terror, anger, horror, resentment. They can then feel underneath that their parents should have protected them and wonder why. Deep down they know that it wasn’t possible. Sometimes the child will feel guilt and inadequacy, then spending years trying to get their parents approval and recognition.
Those diagnosed with PTSD AND CPTSD can experience many different symptoms and side effects of this complex disorder. These are just some of the more common….
1: brain fog and lack of concentration, 2: hypervigilance, 3: perceptual distortion, night terrors, disassociation, patterns of self destructive behaviour 4: normal reactions to an abnormal situation, triggered by some noises, smells, sounds.
The parts of the brain activated by PTSD are thalamus, hippocampus and the amygdala. In a person with this disorder the incoming sensory information to the brain via the senses, sometimes get processes in the wrong order. For instance, take a visual stimulus that is received first by the eyes and the thalamus, the information is normally processed through the thalamus before being passed to the amygdala for a reaction before being stored in the long term memory. In those with this disorder the information can be mixed up and go to the amygdala first, causing an emotional reaction that may be inappropriate. This obviously causes added stress to the patient and those around him. This can cause them to become withdrawn.
It can be difficult during therapy for the person with PTSD/CPTSD to open up and the further back a trauma occurred the more difficult it is to remember vital detail. An effective form of working through this is a trauma trail, whereby we try and trace back to the original trauma.
Quite often triggers can alert the “flight or fight ” response which in turn activates the adrenal glands. All kinds of symptoms can then over take. Fits of rage, acute fear, risk taking behaviours.
Guilt is a very prevalent emotion and can be present for a very long time because if you get rid of one stimulus for guilt, your head finds another reason. Feelings of inadequacy and that you don’t deserve to be loved/happy . Deep down you may feel as if you invited the trouble. This can make life difficult for the person with this disorder and their family and loved ones.
If you feel you need help at this time, please fill in the contact form and we can see which type of therapy is best for you. Consultation is free