Psychiatrist Blog

Can You Have PTSD From a Relationship?

can you have ptsd from a relationship

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that happens when someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event that causes an acute stress reaction. Symptoms are typically present and persist for more than 1 month. 

Some common examples of traumatic events can include war, shootings, domestic violence, abusive relationship, and sexual abuse.

So, can you have PTSD from a relationship? The short answer is yes. Keep reading below to learn more about post-traumatic relationship syndrome.

What Are the Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

woman with relationship trauma

Symptoms of PTSD can include the following: 

  • Avoiding things that trigger fear
  • Experiencing flashbacks
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Nightmares
  • Panic

Some Fast Facts About PTSD

  • Women are more likely to experience abuse in their lifetime.
  • About 6% of the worldwide population experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 12 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year.
  • June is PTSD awareness month.

Can You Have PTSD From a Relationship?

unhealthy relationship

People can experience post-traumatic stress disorder from abusive relationships if their partner was verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually hurting them.

Some examples of verbal abuse from a partner that can lead to post-traumatic relationship syndrome can include the following:

  • Bringing things up from your past that you are ashamed of or embarrassed about
  • Gaslighting (turning a scenario onto you when they are at fault/changing the subject/avoiding taking responsibility)
  • Raising their voice at you

This is very similar to emotional abuse, talking down to you, making you feel bad about yourself, and ultimately not supporting you as a partner or equal.

physical abuse in relationship

Relationship PTSD caused by physical abuse can be direct or indirect. Direct physical abuse is when they physically lay their hands on you, grab or hit you. Indirect physical abuse can be punching a wall next to you, throwing a chair in your direction, or even at an inanimate object while you are present. 

Sexual abuse can be when you are forced to engage in sexual activity when you did not give consent. 

Most patients with relationship trauma have experienced more of these forms of abuse, however, they are usually intertwined altogether.

[Related: What Not To Do To Someone With PTSD]

Where To Get Help for Relationship PTSD?

patient with relationship PTSD

Talk to your primary care provider, therapist, or psychiatrist. If you or someone you know is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder due to an abusive relationship, we are here to help explore your PTSD treatment options.

Schedule an appointment with a PNS provider for professional medical advice and treatment. Everyone handles their experiences and emotions differently.  Talk to your PA, NP, or doctor to see what is best for you individually. PTSD is a difficult diagnosis to get through, and it is important to remember you are never alone.


Emergency resources such as the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (988) and Veterans Crisis Line (988, press 1).


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