PTSD And Planning For The Future

Failure to recognize or plan for the future is a very common Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptom. Why do people who have this disorder have such a hard time acknowledging events that may take place in the future and plan accordingly? Making and carrying out future plans does seem like a logical way to conduct your affairs, but this is a very big problem among those with PTSD.

The answer lies in what PTSD truly is. People acquire this disorder because they have been terrified and rendered helpless in a moment in which they believed that they would die. They have seen death very close to them. This is the diagnostic criteria and defining factor with this disorder. An event in which anyone sees the end of their life coming to an end, an event in which they do not believe that they will survive, robs them of their sense of trust and safety. It takes a certain amount of faith to believe that there will be a tomorrow. A sense of trust and safety are required in order to believe that future plans will actually come to pass. People who suffer from PTSD have lost these concepts and have a markedly foreshortened sense of the future.

Some people who suffer from posttraumatic stress can manage to plan a day or a week in advance, but every one who has this disorder has a threshold of what they can comfortably look forward to. Some people can’t even foresee tomorrow or the next day and this is why we live our lives solely in the present.

If you are in a relationship with someone who has PTSD, you know how frustrating it is to make plans for a week or two in advance and then watch them fall through. Anxiety has much to do with this phenomenon. Depression can contribute to the inability to follow through with pre planned occasions.

You have likely noticed that we don’t become excited about events until about 5 minutes before they actually occur. Many people who have PTSD do all of their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve because in our minds, the event has to be hours away in order for us to trust that they will occur. This makes no logical sense to someone who does not have this disorder, but it is extremely normal to someone who has PTSD.

Being in a relationship with someone who has PTSD can be challenging and confusing at times. Sometimes you have to use a lot of critical thinking, common sense, and flexibility. At times, it is hard to know what will be the most helpful and what will make a symptom worse for them. Ultimately, education is the key to dealing with PTSD. Once you know what PTSD really is and what to expect, it is not too difficult to personalize a solid plan that is specific to the person that you love. Belief in a foreshortened future can be overcome, as can many common post traumatic stress symptoms.