The Effects of PTSD on a Person's Everyday Life

How PTSD affects mental and physical health and relationships

sad man in therapy
Getty/Photographer's choice/Peter Dazeley

The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be far-reaching. PTSD can be a debilitating disorder and its symptoms can have a negative impact on a number of different areas in a person's life. In particular, the disorder can negatively affect an individual's mental health, physical health, work, and relationships. 

Mental Health Problems

Study after study has found that people with PTSD are at much greater risk for developing a number of other mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders and substance use disorders.

For example, it has been found that people with PTSD are about six times as likely as someone without PTSD to develop depression and about five times as likely to develop another anxiety disorder.

In addition to these mental health problems, people with PTSD are also six times as likely as someone without PTSD to attempt suicide. High rates of deliberate self-harm have also been found among people with PTSD.

Physical Health Problems

In addition to mental health problems, people with PTSD seem to be at greater risk for physical health problems, including pain, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, respiratory problems, and sexual dysfunction.

It is not entirely clear as to why people with PTSD have more physical health problems. However, it may be due to the fact that the symptoms of PTSD result in the release of stress hormones that may contribute to inflammation and eventual damage to a person's body.

This would increase a person's risk for certain physical health problems, including heart disease.

People with PTSD also appear to be at high risk for unhealthy behaviors (for example, smoking) which may further increase the possibility of physical health problems.

Problems at Work and in Relationships

PTSD can greatly interfere with a person's ability to work and maintain relationships.

People with the condition miss more days at work and work less efficiently than people without it. Certain symptoms of PTSD, such as difficulties concentrating and problems sleeping, may make it difficult for a person with PTSD to pay attention at work, stay organized, or make it to work on time.

Not surprisingly then, people with PTSD also have higher rates of unemployment than people without PTSD. Likewise, people with PTSD often have problems at school. It has been found that people with PTSD may be more likely to not make it through high school or college.

Also, people with PTSD are more likely to have problems in their marriages than people without PTSD. Partners of people with the condition may be faced with a number of stressors that go along with caring for and living with someone with a chronic disease. These stressors include financial strain, managing the person's symptoms, dealing with crises, loss of friends or loss of intimacy. These stressors can have a major negative impact on a relationship.

The Importance of Getting Help for Your PTSD

If you have a diagnosis of PTSD, it is very important to seek out some kind of help. Not only are the symptoms of PTSD difficult to cope with, but they can also have a major negative impact on different areas of your life.

Unfortunately, only slightly more than a third of people with PTSD are in some kind of treatment. There are a number of effective treatments for PTSD and treating PTSD can cause improvements in other areas of your life.

For example, when people successfully treat their PTSD, they often find that other disorders go away as well (although their other conditions may require specific, targeted treatments). Finding a mental health provider can be an overwhelming and stressful task if you do not know where to look. But there are several websites that provide search engines that can help you find mental health providers in your area that treat PTSD.


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