When you are betrayed by someone you trust and love deeply, such as your spouse, you feel a searing pain in your chest. That sting can leave a deep scar. Lingering trauma from the betrayal that doesn’t heal and as many physical and mental symptoms. But is it possible to get PTSD from being cheated on? The answer is yes—a very big yes.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is short for post-traumatic stress disorder, a disorder that occurs in individuals who had witnessed or experienced something traumatic. This trauma can be anything from a natural disaster, terrorism, sexual assault, death threats, violence, or serious injuries. Many people are surprised that infidelity can result in such a terrible betrayal that they are traumatized by the act.
However, this is not uncommon. In some cases, infidelity-related PTSD is called post-infidelity stress disorder (PISD) and results from betrayal trauma. Although PISD is not an actual diagnosis, it is a feeling that many people who have experienced trauma from an affair report.
Symptoms Of Infidelity PTSD
There are many symptoms associated with PTSD from being cheated on, including the following:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Agitation and irritability towards your spouse after their betrayal
- Self-destructive behaviors, including unhealthy coping strategies
- Anxiety and distrust to the point of paranoia
- Feeling nauseous all the time
- Flashbacks pertaining to the moment you discovered the infidelity or other strong visuals, including your spouse spending time with the other person
It should also be noted that men and women experience PTSD after getting cheated on differently. Men, in general, are less comfortable with expressing themselves and how they feel after being betrayed, so they may shut down and avoid social interaction. For women, who are typically in tune with their
emotions, acting out and talking about what they are experiencing may be easier. However, women also tend to have more startling flashbacks and sleep disturbances than men.
Why Does Infidelity Cause PTSD?
You now know that yes, it is possible to get PTSD from being cheated on. But why does this happen? Ultimately, the level of stress inflicted on someone who has learned that they were cheated on can be so painful that they cannot cope with it. Any kind of relationship betrayal can be viewed as an attack, particularly for those with other traumatic experiences from childhood. The interpersonal trauma sustained could cause lasting damage, resulting in symptoms that can be clinically diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Getting cheated on by your favorite person in the whole world is definitely one of the worst betrayals someone could experience.
Recovering From Betrayal Trauma
The world may seem a little less big and dimmer after sustaining so much trauma from being cheated on, but you do not have to live with the pain forever. Not only is overcoming the PTSD from getting cheated on possible, but you can also move forward with your life. Working through the emotions is going to be difficult and take time, but it will be worth it in the end.
Here are some tips to help you recover from post-traumatic stress disorder:
After being betrayed so terribly in a romantic relationship or your marriage, you may find that your ongoing trust issues and anxiety are holding you back. One of the best ways to deal with the trauma is to acknowledge what has happened. Since this can be challenging on your own, it is recommended that you see a professional therapist, such as those at Couples Academy.
In therapy, you can work through the turmoil in a safe space, with someone who will not judge you for what you say. Instead of suppressing the uncomfortable emotions and trying to get on with your life, you can talk about incidents in your life that could be contributing to PTSD. Your therapist will also help you see that what happened to you is not your fault.
Focus On You
When a partner cheats, most people are torn in one of two directions: either you stay together or you separate. This is not something you should feel needs addressing right away. Instead, focus on healing. Visiting a relationship therapist for guidance on this issue may help, but you and your well-being are more important.
As you work through the trauma, do the following:
- If you are having trouble getting to sleep because of intrusive thoughts or nightmares, do not stay in bed. Instead, get up and run a warm bath, try some aromatherapy, do yoga, or listen to soothing music before trying to sleep again.
- If your anxiety is out of control, find familiar shows, movies, or books to help you calm down. Comfort shows and books can help you feel more grounded. Other options include hobbies you enjoy or exercise, such as hiking, swimming, or gardening.
- If you are feeling sick to your stomach all the time, try snacking on foods you enjoy instead. Stay hydrated.
Overcoming Infidelity Together With Couples Academy
Is it possible to get PTSD from being cheated on? Yes, it is. The trauma from such a betrayal can be so great that someone develops the symptoms of PTSD. Since it can be so difficult to cope with this kind of disorder, it is recommended that you attend therapy and take as much time as needed to heal. Over time, you will find that you can trust again.
Couples Academy can help you through the pain and rebuild your relationship from the ground up. We know how hard it can be to overcome infidelity, which is why we will support you every step of the way. Give us a call or send us a message to learn more about our counseling programs.