The Effects of PTSD on a Person's Everyday Life

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

The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be far-reaching and debilitating. The symptoms of PTSD can have a negative impact on your mental health, physical health, work, and relationships. You may feel isolated, have trouble maintaining a job, be unable to trust other people, and have difficulty controlling or expressing your emotions.

Problems at Work and in Relationships

People with PTSD miss more days at work and work less efficiently. Certain symptoms of PTSD, such as difficulties concentrating and problems sleeping, may make it hard for you 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 and are less likely to make it through high school or college.

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. The sources of stress include financial challenges, managing the person's symptoms, dealing with crises, loss of friends, or loss of intimacy. These can have a major negative impact on a relationship.

Social isolation is a common problem with PTSD. You feel different from other people and can have problems communicating with and interacting with others. You can find it difficult to trust other people. It is hard to create or maintain relationships and you may avoid social situations.

Mental Health Problems

If you have PTSD you are at much greater risk of developing a number of other mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. For example, researchers have 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, having PTSD seems to raise the risk of 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 your body. This would increase your risk for certain physical health problems, including heart disease.

Having PTSD also appears to raise risks for unhealthy behaviors (for example, smoking, lack of exercise, and increased alcohol use) which may further increase the possibility of physical health problems.

The Importance of Getting Help for Your PTSD

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. You don't have to face this alone, you can get treatment for PTSD.

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 lead to 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).

You can find a mental health provider for PTSD in several ways. Ask for recommendations from your family doctor, your health insurance provider, or those you have connected with who also have PTSD. If you are a veteran, all VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care. The military has programs for its members and their families.

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