Victims of narcissistic abuse often ask this question – can you get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being in a relationship with a narcissist? Seeing as June is PTSD Awareness Month, I decided that this is a good time to tackle the topic.
The answer is yes, it is most definitely possible for narcissistic abuse to traumatise you to the point that you develop PTSD.
In this blog post, I will explore the toxic impact of the narcissist on their victim’s mental health and discuss the symptoms of PTSD.
I will also offer tips for getting better if you are currently struggling with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse.
The link between narcissistic abuse and PTSD
Narcissistic abuse is a form of emotional abuse that is characterized by manipulation, control, gaslighting, and other toxic behaviours. The narcissist will often use these tactics to try to get their victim to doubt themselves, question their reality, and wonder if they are going crazy.
When someone is subjected to prolonged trauma, such as narcissistic abuse, it causes changes in their brain. The hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and emotion, often becomes smaller due to the stress of the situation. This can lead to problems with memory, concentration, and emotional regulation.
Additionally, the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response) can become oversensitive. This means that the victim may startle easily, have trouble sleeping, and be constantly on edge. They may also have difficulty controlling their emotions and may experience outbursts of anger or crying.
The Linen Cupboard Metaphor illustrates how traumatic memories are improperly stored in the brains of people with PTSD or CPTSD. In this metaphor traumatic memories are compared to linen stored in a disorganized linen cupboard.
The symptoms of PTSD can be divided into four main categories:
- Re-experiencing the trauma: This can include flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts about the abuse.
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma: This may involve avoidance behaviours such as staying away from people or places that remind you of the narcissist.
- Negative changes in mood and thinking: This can manifest as depression, anxiety, or feeling detached from others.
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions: This can include insomnia, hypervigilance, and anxiety.
How to heal after experiencing narcissistic abuse
If you are struggling with PTSD after experiencing narcissistic abuse, there are some things that you can do to start feeling better.
First, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with support and guidance as you work through your trauma. You may also benefit from medication if you are struggling with anxiety or depression.
Second, make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically. This means eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.
Third, connect with others who have been through similar experiences. Your could participate in online support groups or in-person meetups. Sharing your story with others who understand what you’re going through can be incredibly healing.
Finally, give yourself time to heal. It is important to be patient with yourself and to understand that healing takes time.
If you are struggling with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, know that PTSD is not a sign of weakness – it is your brain’s reaction to the stress that the narcissist has inflicted upon you.
Healing will take time, but step by step you will get there.
More about PTSD:
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