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Ms. Vicki: Is PTSD a Forgotten Problem?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am married to an Air Force officer who has been active for 15 years. He was diagnosed with PTSD after his last deployment in 2010.

I am very disappointed because people don't talk about PTSD anymore. I feel that it's a forgotten illness because there is a draw down of forces and the wars are over.

I am very happy about the drawdown, but my husband is still not well. Sometimes I think his symptoms are worse -- the nightmares, flashbacks, irritability and his moodiness are there, but his isolation from me is the worst. Our intimacy is basically nonexistence, and I don't know what to do to change it. We have tried marriage therapy, and my husband has been in treatment off and on for about five years.

I don't think any of the professionals understand that I am suffering, too. What about the wives or other spouses? What can I do to try and make my marriage last and stand the test of time?

-- Shifting Sand

Dear Shifting Sand,

Thank you for writing to me and for sharing your story. I know it is difficult. I'm sorry that you feel you and your husband are forgotten.

From reading your letter, I can see that you are at a loss for what to do to help your husband and how to reconnect and have intimacy with your husband. Anyone at any age can get PTSD. Millions of Americans get it, including war veterans, children, women and men. Witnessing something dangerous and upsetting like the death of a loved one, war and combat, a car accident, etc. can cause PTSD.

There are many symptoms of PTSD, like the ones your husband is experiencing. Talk therapy (individual and group) and medication has the best efficacy. Most people report that they had a few therapy sessions but they stopped because they didn't like the therapist, for example.

I encourage you to reach out to different therapists until you find the best fit for yourself. I will send you a subsequent email shortly with resources, but here are a few that may be beneficial to you. Check out MedlinePlus, ClinicalTrials.gov, MentalHealth.gov and the National Institutes of Health.

Let's keep in touch.

-- Ms. Vicki