Caring for someone with PTSD can sometimes lead to secondary trauma.


Photo by Grace Ciszkowski

National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine

Caring for someone with PTSD can sometimes lead to secondary trauma.

And researchers at the University of Utah wondered just how bad that secondary trauma could be.

While completing her graduate studies, Catherine Caska Wallace, PhD and her research team studied two groups of male veterans, along with their female partners. In 32 couples, the veterans suffered from PTSD, and in the control group of 33 couples, PTSD wasn’t a factor.

The veterans in both groups had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once in the past decade.

After the researchers interviewed the couples to measure PTSD, depression, marital satisfaction, and areas of disagreement, they asked the couples to undergo a brief experiment.

Researchers asked each couple to have a conversation about a current issue on which they strongly disagreed.

Before and after the conversation, researchers took physiological measurements from both partners, including blood pressure and heart rate.

Some of their findings probably weren’t surprising. Both veterans and partners in the PTSD group reported significantly higher emotional stress, measured through disaffection and disharmony. They also reported problems with frequent and intense emotional conflict.

But when they looked at the physiological measurements, researchers found something particularly interesting.

While the couples in the PTSD group showed elevated blood pressure during the conversation relative to controls, the partners of the veterans in particular showed the highest blood pressure – even compared to the veterans themselves.

It’s important to note that this study didn’t use random assignment when selecting its sample, so there’s a limit to how much we can generalize its results.

Although preliminary, this research suggests that PTSD can have far reaching and significant physiological impact even among people who don’t suffer from it.

Of course, the blood pressure finding stood alone in this study. I’d like to see more research that examines other physiological and mental factors with the partners of post-traumatic stress sufferers.

If PTSD really carries significant health risks for the partners of veterans, more attention should be paid to them in future research.”



Some questions we never think of asking ourselves



Is my life a happy one?

Can I be happy, just as I am?

What holds me back from being happy?

What needs to happen for me to be happy?

How much time and focus do I invest in being Happy?

What actions hinder my chances at being Happy?

How important is the pursuit of happiness in my life?

How do others attain happiness?

Please share your feelings?



Happiness: Matthew Ricard



“In brief, the goal of life is a deep state of well-being and wisdom at all moments, accompanied by love for every being.

True happiness arises from the essential goodness that wholeheartedly desires everyone to find meaning in their lives.

It is a love that is always available, without showiness or self-interest.

The immutable simplicity of a good heart.”

Another excerpt:

“Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things.”




My two cents: Happiness is an internal way of living, being.

External stimuli does not have the final say on our happiness.

We decide.

Some people with very little to call their own are happy.

How can that be?



When things flare up, focus and awareness are key



We must limit the depth we fall when PTSD, anxiety or depression grabs us.

Sometimes we need to play defense, using focus and awareness.

I refuse to make any decisions when PTSD flares. My thoughts can be irrational, highly emotional and extremely negative.

A good amount of my time is spent letting go of the negative thoughts.

Awareness helps us steer attention away from thought and to the present moment.

Another helpful activity is exercise, strenuous if you are capable.

Keep yourself busy and focused for a day or two until things settle down.

Know that the crisis will pass and things will return to what your normal has been.

If we can let go of our thoughts, we limit the depth of depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Healing is cultivated better when we keep our minds calm and focused.



From Focused and Fearless Shaila Catherine: Concentration



“For concentration to deepen the mind needs to relax. It cannot stay on the defensive. A mind that is glad is easily concentrated.

In spiritual life gladness is not the giddy excitement expressed by titillation or thrill. The deeper forms of gladness arise when you trust your virtue.

Happiness arises when you can trust the purity of your own heart’s intentions. In short, it is a happiness of non-remorse.

It is through sincere reflection and our inner ethical commitments that we purify our intentions and grow to trust ourselves. If our ethical foundation is uncertain, tranquillity will remain shaky, the mind will be unable to confidently settle into this living process of purification.

We can improve the texture of the mind by influencing the kind of thoughts we tend to think.

When you observe thoughts that diminish the qualities you appreciate, abandon those thoughts and give a thought or two to something virtuous, respectable, joyful—perhaps a thought of kindness.”



Lonely: is lonely a judgment?



Lonely can be a judgment. I have friends that seem to have it made, big house, nice car, money, career, etc.

They still feel lonely, emotionally unfulfilled, Lacking.

In many situations, not all, we compare our lives with others.

We may want the status and security of an executive career, that big house, country club membership or athletic skills to dominate our group.

Loneliness is a judgment in this situation. If we judge our world by what we lack, suffering will always be our partner.

Loneliness will become real.

All we have is this mundane moment. Think about that!

Nothing we can achieve or attain in the future will bring lasting happiness.

We can be happy right now, just as we are.

Happiness is a peaceful, internal way of being, living in the moment.

Equanimity is what the Buddhist label it.

Just think, we have the ability to shower ourselves with kindness.



Happiness is connected to Acceptance.



If happiness only occurs in the present moment, accepting everything about ourselves right now, is imperative.

Things we do not accept, block us from truly being happy.

Common sense tells me these perceived flaws are the doors to our suffering or joy.

It takes persistence and practice to accept our flaws, our unworthy parts, our devious parts and especially our shameful parts.

All these biased judgments have no power as soon as we release them.

I am not my thoughts, or judgments, or emotions, or my ego!

I am present, focused, aware and following what my senses absorb.

The trick is to not identify with our flaws, trading judgment in for being present for this next mundane moment.



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