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It’s Official: You Can Get PTSD From Being In An Emotionally Damaging Relationship


If you have ever been involved in an emotionally abusive relationship, a relationship where you’ve been manipulated and taken advantage of, you are probably familiar with the feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, and hopelessness.

Sadly, psychologists and neuroscientists warn that being emotionally abused for many years can make a person suffer from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many people believe that PTSD can only happen to people who have been abused in extreme circumstances, being in a war for instance. However, the truth is, other traumas such as domestic, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can also lead to C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).

Even though C-PTSD is not listed in the Diagnostics and Statistics manual, it is still regarded by doctors as a condition which is a combination of PTSD with a Stockholm Syndrome.

According to Dr. Joseph M Carver, Ph.D., every victim of abuse experiences some, if not all, symptoms of PTSD.

These symptoms linger many years; some for a lifetime. Everyone knows this but it’s rarely bought up… During our period of abuse, the brain collects thousands of memories that contain details of our abusive experiences and the feelings (horror, terror, pain, etc.) made at that time.

In what we call ‘traumatic recollection,’ any similar experience in the future will recall the emotional memory of the abuse, forcing us to relive the event in detail and feeling.”

The PTSD symptoms can be divided into 3 categories: hyperarousal symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and re-experiencing symptoms.

Hyperarousal symptoms include being on edge, getting startled easily, difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts.

Avoidance symptoms, on the other hand, involve staying away from events, places, and people that remind the victim of their trauma, feelings of numbness and depression, loss of interest in things the victim once enjoyed and having difficulty remembering the trauma.

And finally, re-experiencing symptoms include terrifying flashbacks and thoughts that relieve the traumatic event or constant nightmares that lead to experiencing physical symptoms such as extreme palpitations.  

So, if you suspect someone you know is going through C-PTSD, look for these signs: feelings of aloneness and being stigmatized, persistent anxiety, depression, hopelessness, relieving the traumatic experience, bursts of anger, and suicidal thoughts.

C-PTSD recovery exists, and doctors have divided it into 3 stages: creating safety, mourning the loss, and reconnection to society.

Or in other words, the first thing you need to do if you are suffering from C-PTSD is find a therapist that will help you acknowledge your past hurt from the trauma and help you protect yourself and regain your self-esteem and your sense of control.

Share this post to raise awareness of this condition and help as many victims of abuse as you can to seek treatment because the consequences of C-PTSD can really affect someone’s life in a terrible way if it’s left untreated.

Mary Wright