May 31, 2011
Military.com|by Amy Bushatz
More than half of military spouses who think they are suffering from secondary PTSD symptoms may have been misdiagnosed, a new study finds.
"A lot of times, people see a spouse that's distressed and say it's secondary PTSD
," said Keith Renshaw, a psychology professor at George Mason University who authored the study. "There's kind of an over-assumption that this is prevalent, and that anything and everything that comes up for a spouse is due to that."
Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder
has become a common catch-all label in the military community for the intense stress many spouses feel while living with a veteran suffering from PTSD. Unlike caretaker stress or stress from traumatic events in their own lives, secondary PTSD has sudden, specific characteristics including vivid dreams about the servicemember's traumatic event or avoiding reminders of that event, Renshaw said.
The study, due for release this fall, found that up to 41 percent of the 190 spouses it surveyed had symptoms similar to those linked with secondary PTSD. But when questioned further, only about 15 percent of respondents pointed to their husbands' military experience as the sole cause for their stress -- a key trait of secondary PTSD.