Strategies for Protecting Your Relationships When Challenges Get in the Way: PTSD Monthly Update, September 2016

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PTSD Monthly Update

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For Providers

Research at the Center

PTSD in the News

September 2016 Issue


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Feature Topic

Strategies for Protecting Your Relationships When Challenges Get in the Way

A man and a woman in counseling

Relationships with friends, family members, and co-workers can have a major impact on your everyday life.

The love, support, and friendship of people who care about you can enhance the good times and may help you get through the bad.

But certain life challenges, such as experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder, financial troubles, or a job loss, can put a strain on any relationship - no matter how close it is.

Look out for signs that your relationships are under stress

Many people need time to adjust after an intense experience or major change in their lives. Sometimes the stresses of adjusting contribute to family problems or relationship issues.

You may want to reach out for help if you're experiencing any of the following feelings and behaviors or noticing them in someone that you know:

  • Hopelessness, feeling like there's no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Engaging in risky activities
  • Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

What can I do about family and relationship issues?

There are several steps you can take to help relieve the stress on your relationships. Start by trying to:

  • Get the right amount of sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Make a communication plan for expressing your thoughts and feelings with those you care about; think about what you want to say and how to say it.
  • Listen to what others who care about you have to say.
  • Find something social to do - this may be a hobby, volunteer work, or participation in worship services.
  • Pace your social involvement and family activities; don't overdo it or overwhelm yourself.
  • Discover how to spend time with others in ways that aren't too emotionally or physically demanding.

The following Signs of Crisis require immediate attention from a medical or mental health professional:

  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself
  • Looking for ways to kill yourself
  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, weapons, etc.

Relationships are complicated, but taking steps to improve them doesn't have to be. Learn more about PTSD, how trauma effects relationships, and the effects of PTSD on families. You can also hear from family members of Veterans on About Face.

September is suicide prevention month. A mother and father standing on either side of their daughter. Connect with support. No matter what you are going through, resources are available.

Help for Veterans

Remember, you don't have to manage these issues alone. Veterans and their families can contact their local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center using the VA Resource Locator to find counseling, treatment centers, and customized support for dealing with any of these feelings and behaviors.

If you notice the signs of crisis in yourself or another Veteran, call the Veterans Crisis Line to get confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at, or text to 838255.

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For Providers

Consult with PTSD Experts

The PTSD Consultation Program offers free PTSD consultation to any provider who treats Veterans in any setting. This program is now open to Community Providers.

PTSD Consultation Program

Have a question about PTSD? Contact us:
Call 866-948-7880 or

PTSD Lecture Series

Free continuing education credits for our monthly lecture series:

9/21 at 2 pm ET - John Krystal, MD, on PTSD: From Neurobiology to Treatment

  • Non-VA Providers: Register at TRAIN.
  • VA Providers: Register at TMS.

Mark your calendar for the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 2 pm ET.

Subscribe to receive monthly emails that include a registration link and instructions for joining the live lectures.

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Research at the Center

Predicting Suicide Risk Among VHA Patients with PTSD

Researchers are studying suicide risk and resilience, and developing risk profiles for trajectories using machine learning, in data from a longitudinal study of VHA patients with and without PTSD. This multi-year study will enhance clinician ability to predict suicide in clinical practice.

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PTSD in the News

More Vets Get Alternative Treatment For PTSD, But Not Always Evidence-Based. Dr. Schnurr talks with New England Radio about alternative treatment for PTSD. Read more.*

Be sure to forward this update to others so they can subscribe. We send one update per month to keep you informed of the latest PTSD developments.

Thank you,

The Staff of VA’s National Center for PTSD

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Produced by VA’s National Center for PTSD - Executive Division
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*Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website to a non government site.
VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of these linked websites.