Distress in spouses of combat veterans with PTSD: The importance of interpersonally based cognitions and behaviors

Keith D. Renshaw, Rebecca K. Blais, Catherine M. Caska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite considerable research indicating that spouses of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience appreciable levels of psychological and marital distress, there is little empirical information about the mechanisms by which this distress develops. Given the ongoing military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fact that spouses form a primary support for combat veterans who return from deployments with symptoms of PTSD, a more comprehensive understanding of such mechanisms is critical. In this chapter, we review research that helps explain spouses' distress from a cognitive-behavioral framework. Relevant veteran behaviors include internalizing behaviors (e.g., emotional withdrawal and avoidance) and externalizing behaviors (e.g., verbal and physical aggression). Although less research exists regarding spousal factors that may contribute to their distress, we review existing knowledge about spouse behaviors (e.g., accommodation of veterans' symptoms) and cognitions (e.g., perceptions of burden and attributions for veterans' symptoms). Finally, we provide recommendations for future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRisk and Resilience in U.S. Military Families
PublisherSpringer New York
Pages69-84
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781441970633
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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