Living with someone with PTSD

Living with someone suffering PTSD can feel like living with a stranger. You can’t understand why they are less loving, quicker to anger, and/or turning to drugs or alcohol as they try to find refuge from their fear. It’s not surprising it puts a heavy strain on your relationship.

In this situation you may benefit from trying therapy yourself to understand what your partner is going through and the impact it can have on your home. You can also encourage them to book 1:1 therapy themselves with a PTSD specialist.

How can you help bring your loved one back to earth if they are suffering a flashback to the trauma? They may feel they are detached from their own body – what is known as disassociation.

You can help ground them with these suggestions:

  • Reassure them that the event is not happening again – this is a flashback
  • To stop them feeling trapped (which can provoke violence or agitation), ask before you touch or hug them
  • Avoid sudden movements / anything that might startle them
  • Ask them to look around the room and tell you what they see 
  • Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths to reduce their feelings of panic.

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