Can PTSD Cause Relationship Problems ? How Can You Deal With Them?

Can PTSD cause relationship problems? If yes, then how can you deal with someone suffering from PTSD? If these questions ever crossed your mind, you will have the answers to your questions now.

PTSD is a serious disorder and has the ability to negatively impact all relationships. This is a very serious condition and needs to be dealt with with the utmost sensitivity. It can also lead to relationship problems that are surely difficult but not impossible to solve.

Understanding Post-traumatic Stress Disorder 

Understanding PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is a mental disorder that can develop in individuals after a traumatic event such as military combat or assault. It usually develops after a traumatic event. The event can vary in intensity. It can range from combat to natural disasters, accidents, life-threatening events, and physical or sexual assault.

Some symptoms of PTSD generally belong to one of these four categories:

  • Intrusion – It is quite common for individuals with PTSD to have intrusive thoughts or experience recurring memories of the traumatic incident.
  • Avoidance – Individuals suffering from PTSD tend to actively avoid places or activities that could trigger them or remind them of the traumatic event. It is also common for them to exhibit disinterest or detachment from certain activities they liked doing before.
  • Mood Changes – PTSD can lead to significant changes in mood. They may experience negative emotions and may also exhibit emotional instability. 
  • Alterations in Arousal – Individuals with PTSD may be easily startled. They are quite irritable, may experience difficulty sleeping, and may also exhibit anger outbursts. These individuals are extremely aware of their surroundings and have an exaggerated response to stimuli. They may also exhibit some self-destructive behavior. 

Can PTSD Cause Problems In Your Relationship?

Can PTSD affect your relationship

PTSD can make interaction quite difficult in a relationship. The individual with PTSD might withdraw, or lash out. They sometimes exhibit extreme mood swings as well. All of these behaviors may worsen the relationship. 

The symptoms and effects of PTSD can affect various aspects of a relationship, including communication, emotional intimacy, trust, and overall relationship dynamics. However, it is very much possible to deal with these problems through patience and understanding.

Signs Your Partner Might Have PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD

Not all individuals have PTSD after a traumatic incident. And it can become difficult to differentiate if an individual has PTSD after a traumatic incident without the proper diagnosis of a qualified professional. Although the signs and symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person, we have provided some common signs to look out for:

  • Flashbacks and Intrusive Memories – Your partner may experience memories of the traumatic event. It is also common for them to experience recurring flashbacks as if they are reliving that incident. These memories and flashbacks can be triggered because of certain places, sounds, or experiences.
  • Avoidance or Withdrawal – If your partner actively avoids certain situations, interactions, or places after a traumatic incident, it might be advised to seek professional help. They might also withdraw themselves from a lot of situations.
  • Emotional Numbing – It is highly likely for individuals with PTSD to show disinterest in activities that they used to like doing previously. You might find your partner becoming detached from their hobbies, or people. They might also have difficulty experiencing positive emotions and connecting with people emotionally.
  • Hyperarousal or Irritability – Your partner, if suffering from PTSD may also show a heightened response to any stimuli. They may be easily startled, or have difficulty sleeping. Your partner might always be on edge and hypervigilant. 
  • Mood Swings – Your partner might have PTSD if they show signs of extreme mood changes or negative emotions constantly. If your partner has PTSD, they might experience shame, guilt and blame themselves for the traumatic incident. They might also experience a reduced sense of the future.                                                     
  • Physical Symptoms – PTSD can also manifest itself in the form of physical symptoms. These symptoms may include recurring headaches, digestive issues, muscle pain, or hypertension. 

What Are PTSD Relationship Problems?

What Are PTSD Relationship Problems

PTSD can affect relationships in a variety of ways. Here are some aspects of a relationship in which PTSD can cause problems:

  • Communication Problems – If your partner has PTSD, you both might experience some difficulty communicating with each other. The individual with PTSD might find it difficult to put forth their thoughts and emotions effectively. They may also struggle to listen and empathize with their partner’s needs. 
  • Emotional Distancing – Emotional intimacy becomes a problem for individuals suffering from PTSD. They might withdraw or isolate themselves from their surroundings and even their partners as a coping mechanism. They struggle with their emotions, thus, making it difficult to develop an emotional bond.
  • Increased Conflict – Individuals with PTSD tend to be easily irritable, and hypervigilant and this could lead to a higher number of conflicts and arguments within the relationship. The individual might be easily triggered and tend to be short-tempered. 
  • Trust Issues – If the traumatic experience in your partner’s life involved a betrayal or some kind of violation, then it is possible for that individual to have trust issues. This might result in difficulties maintaining the trust and would prevent them from being vulnerable or sharing their thoughts with their partners.
  • Lifestyle Changes – Individuals who have PTSD have difficulty getting back to their daily routines. PTSD can cause disruption of daily activities. For example, going out to the park as that might be associated with the trauma they experienced.  

Although it is possible that PTSD can damage relationships, it is not always necessary that it will happen. It is also possible that some relationships overcome this trauma and thrive. 

How To Overcome PTSD Relationship Problems?

How Can You Support A Partner With PTSD

Support to a partner with PTSD can only be extended through empathy and compassion. However, it is very much possible to deal with these problems through patience and understanding.

  • Educate Yourself About PTSD – If your partner is suffering from PTSD, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms. Understand the condition better so that you are able to deal with it better as well. 
  • Communicate With Passion – Encourage your partner to be open about their feelings. Listen actively without any judgment or any interruption whatsoever even if it is difficult for you to understand those emotions at the time. 
  • Validate Experiences – It is important that you validate your partner’s experiences and emotions. Acknowledge the impact of the trauma that they suffered and let them know that they are completely valid.
  • Be Patient – The symptoms of PTSD can be unpredictable. The individual with PTSD is already at a vulnerable position as it is, during this time it is important to be patient with them. Their mood might fluctuate, so be flexible and understand their emotions. 
  • Encourage Professional Help – Unless you are a qualified professional, you cannot be fully equipped to deal with PTSD on your own. Encourage your partner to seek help. A psychologist or a therapist might be able to provide strategies to deal with PTSD.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Supporting a partner with PTSD can be challenging so don’t forget to take care of yourself.


Dealing with PTSD can be difficult for the individual and their loved ones. It can impact our relationships to a great extent, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be dealt with. In the presence of the right professional care, time, effort, and patience you can overcome this issue.

Relationships are complex, and it’s natural for issues to arise along the way. If you have any queries regarding Relationship Counseling experienced therapists at CoupleMantra can help: Book a trial couple therapy session.


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