About one in 12 Americans experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives after experiencing a violent crime, war atrocities, or some other wrenching event. All too often, the flashbacks, anxiety, insomnia, and withdrawal from everyday life lead to marriage conflicts and divorce. Now, though, a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that a specific form of couple therapy can improve symptoms of PTSD and lead to stronger romantic relationships.
In the trial, 40 heterosexual and homosexual couples — with one partner having PTSD — were given weekly therapy sessions at the VA Boston Healthcare System or in a Toronto research center, or assigned to be in a control group. Those with PTSD who had the couple therapy experienced a greater improvement after 15 weekly sessions compared with those who didn’t have therapy.