PTSD in the family
Published: August 21, 2012
When I first started writing Spouse Calls in 2007, I heard from spouses of troops with post-traumatic stress disorder that they were routinely left out of the loop of a loved one’s mental health treatment.
As more becomes known about the impact of combat stress on military families, as well as military members, research is showing that families should be part of the treatment equation.
Treating the family not only helps them manage the stress of living with a PTSD sufferer, but can also improve treatment outcomes for the PTSD sufferer, suggests a study by the University of Missouri released a few months ago and reported in Stars and Stripes. This makes it a little easier to answer letters like these that continue to come in from loved ones who are learning about PTSD the hard way.
Q. I read (on the Spouse Calls blog) about how her husband had hate for her and was nice to other people. I would like to read more on this subject. I am going through the same thing and I can't get help without him signing up. He refuses to do anything with me. I need help on how to deal with this. I was relieved to see someone going through the same thing. I thought I was going crazy, at least that he what he keeps telling me. I'm hanging on, but it's affecting my job and health.
A. You are definitely not alone in the experience you describe, as you found by reading the comments you mentioned.
Even if your husband does not seek therapy or counseling for himself, you can decide for yourself if you would like to receive mental health services for your own health and well being.
Military family members are eligible for individual counseling, even if the active duty member is not seeking treatment for PTSD. No matter what he or someone else has told you, your treatment is not contingent upon your husband’s. Your options include seeing a chaplain, making an appointment at the mental health program at a military treatment facility, or if that is not available, obtaining a Tricare referral for a civilian counselor or therapist.
Additionally, free counseling, advice and referrals to caregivers in your area are available from Military One Source. You can set up free confidential counseling sessions.
Be aware that this and any counseling will focus on your own mental and emotional well-being and will not evaluate or treat your husband's issues via your retelling of his behavior. Ultimately, he has to seek treatment for himself, but until he does, you need support for your own good mental health.
Q. I am looking for an article on spouses, boyfriends: who cheat on us due to PTSD. I have been in a relationship for six years, the first three years were amazing, and then it was like he snapped. He started repeatedly cheating, blaming that I am just a nag and we don’t have fun in anymore. The next day he always comes crying to me about how wrong he was. This has taken a huge toll on me. I am a beautiful, intelligent woman, who has lost her self worth. I read that PTSD can often cause the spouse/significant other to experience symptoms. I am going with him to the (Veteran’s Affairs facility) to see a psychiatric doctor this week.
A. Sadly, loved ones and family members also suffer when a military member has combat stress. Unless you have a military ID, you might not be included in your boyfriend’s treatment, but I urge you to get some kind of therapy or treatment for yourself. You are still affected by his actions, and help is available.
Give An Hour is one outreach program that offers free professional counseling to military and civilian clients.
The Well Spouse Association is a potential source of contacts and information that is also open to anyone. The WSA is an association for all spousal caregivers, including spouses of those with PTSD.
More information about PTSD is available at The National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.