Key Takeaways Key Takeaways
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects individuals beyond combat veterans, influencing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It manifests uniquely in each person but profoundly affects daily life, making simple tasks challenging and significantly altering relationships, work performance, living situations, and the perception of the world.

  • PTSD alters relationships, causing strain and difficulties in communication and trust. It hampers work performance through symptoms like difficulty concentrating and managing stress, potentially altering career paths. Individuals with PTSD may also face significant lifestyle changes, including homelessness risk, dependence on substances, and avoidance of once-enjoyed activities.

  • PTSD often engenders a negative outlook on life, affecting beliefs about oneself and the world. The use of telehealth in treating PTSD provides accessible care for those struggling, aiding in identifying the impact of PTSD on their lives, understanding the disorder’s role, and finding ways to heal and move forward, emphasizing the importance of seeking professional help for effective treatment and recovery.

4 Ways PTSD Affects Daily Life

This content has been updated from previous article on May 5, 2020.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that affects approximately 3.5% of adults in the United States. Though commonly linked to combat veterans, this disorder can affect anyone who has survived or witnessed a traumatic event. These could range from surviving natural disasters, violent acts such as domestic violence, sexual assault or rape, accidents, sudden loss of loved one, childhood trauma, etc.

In general, PTSD causes people to have intense thoughts and feelings related to a traumatic event long after the event ends. These thoughts and feelings can manifest as many different symptoms, which vary from person to person. Though each person with PTSD is unique, there is one common thread that unites all cases: the disorder severely impacts daily life.

PTSD can have a profound impact on daily life, influencing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The effects of PTSD can manifest in various ways, making even the simplest tasks challenging for those affected. Many relive or re-experience the traumatic event itself via flashbacks/nightmares, some develop emotional numbness and avoidance to the people, places, or situations that remind the individual of the traumatic event, and others experience negative thoughts and mood with abundance of guilt and blame related to the traumatic event.

Even for people living with the condition, it can be difficult to see the many ways in which PTSD changes daily life. However, identifying these effects can be the first step toward repairing the damage and healing.

PTSD Alters Your Relationships

PTSD can strain relationships and social interactions. Difficulties in expressing emotions, persistent irritability, and withdrawal from social situations can lead to strained relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

Trust issues and difficulties in communication might arise, impacting the ability to form and maintain meaningful connections. Those with PTSD may also feel isolated and misunderstood, further exacerbating their condition.

Partners, in turn, may experience compassion fatigue and stress from dealing with the emotional challenges of their loved one. This strain can lead to conflicts, decreased quality time, and even the breakdown of relationships. Support, understanding, and therapy can be crucial for both the individual with PTSD and their partner to navigate and heal from these challenges.

Couples Therapy specifically can be immensely beneficial when one partner is affected by PTSD. This form of therapy provides a structured and supportive environment where both partners can learn effective communication and coping strategies. It helps the non-affected partner understand the unique challenges of PTSD, fostering empathy and patience. Additionally, it assists the partner with PTSD in expressing their emotions and triggers while teaching them how to manage their symptoms. Couples Therapy encourages open dialogue, rebuilds trust, and can reestablish emotional connection, strengthening the relationship as both partners work together to navigate the complexities of PTSD and find healing and resilience.

PTSD Changes the Way You Work

PTSD can cause symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, and trouble with organizing thoughts. All of these issues and more can make it difficult for a person with PTSD to work effectively or even make it to work. For people with avoidant PTSD, it may be hard to drive or take public transportation to get to work.

People with PTSD often struggle with managing stress. The heightened state of alertness, hypervigilance, and emotional reactivity can make it challenging to cope with stress in the workplace. This may result in difficulties in dealing with high-pressure situations, leading to increased stress levels and reduced ability to manage work demands.

Further issues arise if the person’s workplace is somehow connected to the original trauma. For example, combat veterans may fundamentally change their military careers due to PTSD. This may include not returning to the military out of avoidance, or staying in because they feel isolated outside of the military. Someone who was assaulted at work may similarly need to change career paths in order to avoid triggers.

Severity of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms appears to be linked to the likelihood of not having a job, according to a new study, which showed that almost two thirds of PTSD patients were unemployed.

PTSD Affects How and Where You Live

Unfortunately, people with untreated PTSD experience higher-than-average rates of homelessness. The reported prevalence of PTSD among homeless ranges from 1.89 to 78.57% depending on the studies population. Without steady work and relationships for support, people with PTSD can find themselves without money for rent or anyplace else to go. However, even those who do not experience homelessness can have fundamental shifts in their lifestyles due to PTSD.

Left untreated, PTSD can cause people to depend on drugs and alcohol, isolate themselves from others, and avoid things that once made them happy. It affects every facet of life, from where someone buys a cup of coffee in the morning to how they sleep at night.

PTSD Can Change Your Outlook on the World

People who live with PTSD often experience negative thoughts about themselves and the world in general. As a result of trauma, trust issues frequently arise. Trauma often involves interactions with others beyond our own control, and once a traumatic event occurs, individuals with PTSD might find it challenging to trust others, often perceiving the world as full of potential threats, or feeling alienated from others due to their experiences.

Even people who were once optimists may start believing that the glass is half-empty. Untreated PTSD can lead to Depression due to the emotional and psychological toll it takes on individuals. Repeated exposure to traumatic memories and triggers can result in a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. The constant state of hypervigilance, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts associated with PTSD can disrupt sleep and daily functioning, contributing to the development of depressive symptoms. Additionally, the isolation that often accompanies PTSD, as individuals may withdraw from social interactions, can further exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common in depression. The combination of these factors can lead to a deep sense of despair and increase the risk of developing co-occurring Depression in individuals with PTSD.

How To Get Help with PTSD

First and foremost, telehealth allows people with PTSD to access the benefits of talk therapy without leaving their homes. This makes it much easier for patients to access care since just leaving the home can expose them to triggers.

Telehealth can help people with PTSD:

  • Identify the ways PTSD is affecting your life more specifically
  • Understand that the disorder is to blame
  • Find ways to heal and move forward

Telehealth can serve as its own treatment for milder cases of PTSD, or it can be part of a broader treatment plan.

Don’t struggle alone. Our providers can help.

LifeStance offers many providers who can help with PTSD. Trauma-focused therapies such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a popular and effective treatment of PTSD.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues in an outpatient care setting, both in-person and through its digital health telemedicine offering.

Reviewed By

Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

Nicholette is a faculty member at John Carroll University’s Clinical Counseling program, and she is also the host of the LifeStance podcast, Convos from the Couch.