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Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

Hi all, I'm new to this forum so a bit nervous. I'm pretty sure my husband has undiagnosed PTSD from when he was working for government.  He also has lots of unresolved issues from his childhood. He tells me that he has sorted it out for himself and that it is me that needs help (I was myself probably mildly depressed before, but am currently going through significant situational distress because he wants to leave me) , but he gets very low moods when either topic comes up and still has regular nightmares about the things that happened.  I feel that this is contributing to the breakdown of our marriage because despite all my efforts, he still feels that I am not there for him. How do I learn how to support him in a way that is helpful to him? I've tried letting him know that I care for him and I'm here to listen any time he wants to talk, but he won't reach out as he seems to think I should just know. At other times, I'm afriad that if I bring it up when he's otherwise okay, I will remind him and bring him into a slump. I am worried about him and even if he leaves I want to help and support him, especially since he has no one else to turn to. What can I do?


Re: Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

Hi @Treehugger

Welcome to the forums 😊

I'm sorry to hear about how things have been for you and your husband. You want to support him and work on the relationship but it feels as though there's a lot of pressure on you to fix everything alone.

Living with PTSD can be an incredibly distressing experience and it's not uncommon for men to have a hard time reaching out for support. I think the question you asked, is a great one "How do I learn how to support him in a way that is helpful to him?" Sometimes it can be a good question to put to ther person you want to support, and they can give you a bit of guidance on what might help. 

If you're feeling as though you've tried different stratgies and that communication has been shut down around his mental health, it might be a good idea for you to chat with a counsellor to get a bit of guidance in how to talk to him, and also how to look after yourself amongst everything. Sometimes in couples or families, when one person takes the step to seek support first (even if the support is mainly around how to support the other), it can model help-seeking for the other person and in time, open them up to the idea of seeking help too. 

Here are some practical tips from a UK based service worth a read. And here's a post form another member tlaking about their experience of suppporting a partner living with PTSD. You might also like to intriduce yourself to our other member's here

Hope that helps a little. Look after yourself @Treehugger

Re: Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

Hi Margot,

Thank you for your reply. I have managed to convince my husband to see a psychologist for his PTSD and depression which I am very relieved about. However we now have added complications because as well as his MH, my emotional state and the state of our marriage (which is what my husband blames his MH on), I have also just discovered that my husband is continuing his emotional affair with a friend of ours. While he says that he would be willing to break off contact with her to give our marriage a chance, there is a real risk that she may commit suicide if she loses his emotional support.

I feel stuck. I don't feel like him, I or our marriage can move forward while they continue their emotional affair (they are providing emotional support for each other in a flirtatious and secretive way). I am also very concerned about her mental state if I insist they stop. And while I am comitted to being here every step of the way in helping my husband recover, even if he leaves me, I don't think I am equiped to provide that for her also.

What do I do? I feel like the lives and MH of both families and the people within are being held to randsom by her depression (which isn't her fault and she is trying to work through).

Re: Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

It makes sense you're feeling stuck @Treehugger. You're in a really difficult situation. It's important that you have the right support to navigate this difficult dynamic. You and your husband might be interested in having a look at the resources on the Suicide Callback Service website around supporting a person experincing suicidal thoughts. They offer counselling and crisis support too if ever you need to talk with a professional more immediately for advice and direction. 

Your support and understanding of your husband amongst everything really comes through in your words. I'm really glad to hear he has decided to reach out to a psychologist too. It's such an important step in his recovery. 



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