The Effects of PTSD on Families

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

PTSD is defined as mental health disorder triggered by a terrifying event (Mayoclinic). This ordeal could be the result of some sort of physical harm or threat to the individual, family members, friends or even strangers. (NIMH) While PTSD is typically associated with someone who has served in the military, it can affect more than just that genre of individuals. It could affect rape victims, victims in a terrorist or natural disaster incident, nurses, doctors, and police and fire personnel and bystanders. PTSD can manifest itself in many forms. The primary signs and symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to re-experiencing symptoms (flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts), avoidance of places, situations, or events that may cause those memories to resurface, and hyperarousal symptoms (easily startled, feeling tense or on edge) (NIMH). Other symptoms may include not having positive or loving feelings toward other people, staying away from relationships, may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them, may think the world is completely dangerous, and no one can be trusted.

PTSD was originally thought to just affect the person involved in the incident. New research has shown PTSD can have harmful impacts on families as well (VA). PTSD has negative effects on marriages. Spouses diagnosed with PTSD have symptoms of being less emotional or withdrawn. This can lead to marriage or relationship problems, paren...

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...manifest developmental, behavioral, and emotional problems. This implies the interpersonal nature of trauma and may explain the influence of veteran Posttraumatic Stress Disorder on the child’s development and eventual, long-term and long-lasting consequences for the child’s personality. (

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