This article discusses the experiences of partners who are living with veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.
The intimate partners of veterans living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have few opportunities to articulate in their own words how the disorder affects them and their families. Besides relationship challenges and stress associated with assuming a caregiver role, partners may endure their own psychological distress. These occurrences may be overlooked when treating PTSD, as the focus is usually on the veteran and from the veteran’s perspective. Engaging significant others and understanding their perspective is paramount to both the veteran’s recovery and the well-being of the couple. We mailed surveys to partners of veterans with PTSD as part of a larger study that assessed PTSD-related knowledge, beliefs, treatment involvement, and quality of life. At the end of the survey was an optional free-text section inviting partners to share any other information related to their circumstances. Of all survey respondents, over half (n = 252) provided comments. We used this opportunity to explore these partners’ experiences of living with a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. Using a thematic analysis framework, independent raters coded comments relating to relationships, partner/family reactions, protective factors, mental health services, reactions to study participation, and general remarks. Findings highlighted the myriad ways in which PTSD impacts both partners and families, strategies partners use to cope, and specific mental health services they believe would be most beneficial. Responses suggested a continued need to include partner perspectives in future work, and to provide mental health services targeted to partners of veterans with PTSD.
Mansfield, A. J., Schaper, K. M., Yanagida, A. M., & Rosen, C. S., 2014. One day at a time: The experiences of partners of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(6), 488-495.