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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My girlfriend of 7 months was diagnosed with PTSD 1 year ago

Customer Question

My girlfriend of 7 months was diagnosed with PTSD 1 year ago due to a sexual assault that occurred in 2007. She is very aware of her condition, and is very adept at talking about what she is going through. In fact she supports survivors of assault through crisis management at a local hospital, and is pursuing a career in psych nursing. This time of year is very tough for her. It is near the anniversary of her assault, and near the time of the passing of her uncle. 1 year ago she received a devastating rejection from grad school, and now is awaiting news on her reapplication this winter. To complicate things, it is also near the 1 year anniversary of her attempted suicide. It was after this suicide where she learned of the PTSD diagnosis. To make matters worse, she is from a culture where these things bring shame to the family and are dismissed. I love her very much, and have never had such an amazing bond with someone. We are truly an amazing match for each other. The single strain on our relationship is my lack of support of her PTSD. She needs me to be more mindful and supportive. Sometimes she just needs someone to talk to and to ask her how she is doing. She is very good at putting on the face of happiness, so it is tough to determine when and how to ask her about her mental state. I try so hard sometimes, and she states that she feels unloved and worthless. How can I best support the love of my life as we enter this difficult time of year?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. I can definitely understand why you want to be more supportive and understanding of your partner's PTSD and her mental health issues. Being supportive does not just happen over night though as it is a systematic process. May I ask have you considered attending any support groups or group therapy for family member/partners that have a mental health issue like PTSD? Also have you considered reading any books on the subject to help you gain a good perspective on what your girlfriend is going through? Lastly has the option of couples therapy been suggested because while your girlfriend may want you to be more supportive, you cannot always read her mind, so couples therapy could help her to better communicate to you and help you to better respond too?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The couples therapy is a good idea - I'll suggest it. Can you recommend any books? She has been resistant to finding a new counselor since her previous one retired.
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

This is a great book for you regarding your partner's PTSD "When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do" by Zayfert and DeViva. This is the first book I recommended to individuals who have loved ones suffering through PTSD

Also you may find these titles helpful:

"Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD" by Orange

"Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-traumatic Stress" by Philips

I truly wish you and your girlfriend all the best and I hope she will be able to heal from this very soon. It will take some time, but together you can get through this.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.

*Please do not forget to leave a positive rating at the top of the page so that I can get credit for helping you. Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate it.

Expert:  DrPsychologist replied 1 year ago.

Your girlfriend would benefit from seeing a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional specializing in trauma. If she is unfamiliar with the terms grounding and containment then she has not received trauma treatment. For referrals to providers specializing in trauma she can contact Sheppard Pratt Hospital Trauma Disorders Aftercare at(###) ###-#### A good place for you to learn about PTSD is http://www.sidran.org/ I would advise against couple's counseling for trauma. You can be vicariously traumatized or your girlfriend could spend time taking care of you in session rather than herself

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

Because your girlfriend is resistant to seeking a new counselor for therapy, I would recommend not pushing that subject matter like the above expert wants as that can traumatize her more. She has seen a therapist before, and she knows when she will be ready to see a new one for individual therapy that specializes in PTSD. The couples therapy is still a very good idea and I am not sure why the above expert is against that. PTSD is often seen a singular disorder, but your girlfriend knowing that you can be a great support system for her and working with her on this will only benefit her, you, and the relationship as a whole. Here are a few links regarding couples therapy for treating PTSD where it has shown to be very helpful:

http://www.coupletherapyforptsd.com/

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20120814/ptsd-treatment-couple-therapy-go-hand-in-hand

http://pro.psychcentral.com/cbct-couples-therapy-for-ptsd/007167.html

I hope that you also found the book suggestions helpful and I wish you and your girlfriend all the best moving forward.

*Please do not forget to leave a positive rating at the top of the page so that I can get credit for helping you. Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate it.