It turns out that the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be transmitted to others, including loved ones, caregivers, and others you interact with closely. This is referred to as secondary trauma. Secondary PTSD, in this sense, means that others are affected by interacting with a person who has been traumatized or is experiencing ongoing mental health issues related to extreme stress and traumatic life circumstances. Fresh Start Recovery Center has a trauma therapy program where those suffering from the effects of PTSD or secondary PTSD can receive treatment from our highly skilled counselors. To learn more about secondary PTSD and Fresh Start’s treatment programs and services, reach out to us today at 833.625.0398 to speak with a specialist who can help you decide on the right treatment options for you or your loved one.
Trauma and Secondary PTSD
Caregivers who live or work with someone who has PTSD or related history of trauma and mental illness can end up with secondary PTSD. This happens by a means of transference.
It is sometimes said that empathy is good but compassion is better. One reason is that empathy puts you emotionally and psychologically at risk of taking on the weight of managing someone else’s mental health issues or trauma onto yourself.
Examples of physical signs that relate to secondary PTSD can include:
- GI issues
- Muscle tension and soreness
- Increased susceptibility to illness
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
Secondary PTSD and Emotional Well-Being
The consequences of excessive exposure to individuals affected by mental illness and trauma can have emotional and psychological consequences on a caregiver’s well-being. Related terms for the experience of secondary PTSD include compassion fatigue.
Examples of emotional or psychological issues that can be signs of secondary PTSD include:
- Sense of emotional burnout
- Difficulty feeling sympathy or empathy for others
- Problems separating personal life from work
- Increased anxiety
- Low self-esteem or self-worth
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Sense of numbness
- Suicidal ideation
Those who experience secondary PTSD often begin to feel resentment towards those they care for because of the responsibilities placed on them. In extreme circumstances, a person experiencing secondary trauma can have issues with depersonalization or dissociation. This is because their brain circuitry is essentially trying to tell them this is too much to handle.
Risks Associated with Secondary PTSD
It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with secondary PTSD. There are emotional risks, physical health risks, and then there are also behavioral risks. Caregiving takes a toll on those who have regular contact with those suffering from the effects of mental illness and trauma. Over time this puts caregivers at greater risk for a number of concerns, including drug and alcohol abuse.
Risks that are commonly associated with secondary PTSD can include:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Increased irritability or angry outbursts
- Retreating from social activity or lack of interest
- Trouble with making decisions
- Imposter syndrome
- Feeling you are incapable of fulfilling your obligations as a caregiver
- Problems in personal relationships
- Issues with intimacy and sex
- Disordered eating
Behavioral issues or engaging in risky behavior as a result of secondary PTSD is not uncommon. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to receive the necessary treatment so you can live a positive and harmonious life. A person suffering from secondary PTSD is not in good shape to be an effective caregiver.
Contact Fresh Start for Help with Secondary PTSD
If you are suffering from the effects of secondary PTSD, then you may be able to benefit from mental health counseling offered by the professionals at Fresh Start Recovery Center. Our trauma recovery program can help those struggling with secondary trauma get back to being their best self. Reach out to us today at 833.625.0398 to speak with a trained representative who can help you learn about the benefits of our trauma recovery program.