The effect of PTSD on family members can be significant…

by | Aug 7, 2012 Quote from this site…

“Coping with PTSD in family members can be a difficult thing to do. The effect of PTSD on family can be great. Studies have shown that families where a parent has PTSD are characterized by more anxiety, unhappiness, marital problems, and behavioral problems among children in the family as compared to families where a parent does not have PTSD.”

Taken from my own life experience and as written in my book, PTSD symptoms can cause a person to act in ways that may be difficult for family members to understand. Their behavior may appear erratic and strange or be upsetting.  My Dad’s unpredictable rage and outbursts kept us all on alert and guarded most of the time.  It was far worse when he was self medicating with alcohol during those early years when kids are the most affected.  We were scared all the time waiting for the next shoe to drop.  His outrage looked like an adult tantrum, including verbal and physical abuse, especially when it involved the excuse of discipline.  My mother was frustrated and affected as well and created triggers for my father, who was highly stressed, depressed, and erratic.  Eventually all of us acquired the symptoms usually connected with those who experience severe trauma.  When Dad was calm there was a glimmer of hope that he would be a normal father, but that didn’t last very long.

The key word here is “understand!”  If we had a support system back in the day following WWII, and learned about the symptoms of “battle fatigue” as it was called then, coping would have been easier.  Still troublesome to be sure, but being aware can make a huge difference.  I see this now in my work helping combat veterans and families with PTSD challenges.  The more we know, the less stigma.  The more we identify the problem, we find solutions.  The more experience working with the challenges of life after war, we cope more effectively and help each other create a supportive culture at home.  If we don’t take these steps to become educated and continue to be in denial or ignorant about PTSD,  family life becomes intolerable and at times dangerous.  My best advice is to become proactive and learn by researching the subject of life after war, read and study, using all the resources and references available.  You can even buy my book, which is an excellent snapshot of  a post WWII family’s toxic life after war.  The reviews of my non-fiction story suggest it is cathartic and provides healing value.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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