According to a 2021 survey by Health Testing Centres, “around 46% of respondents in a monogamous relationship said that they had affairs”. It is clear to see that infidelity is a real issue in many relationships. Despite this, there is very little information available on how to heal from the pain and stress of being cheated on.
In this article, we will explore what exactly PISD (post-infidelity stress disorder) is and some ways to help you heal.
What Is Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder?
Post-infidelity stress disorder (PISD) is a condition that can occur in individuals who have experienced infidelity in a close relationship – in other words, being cheated on.
While the experience of being cheated on is certainly stressful, PISD goes beyond simple relationship stress and can have a profound effect on an individual’s mental and physical health, as well as their ability to function in day-to-day life.
Depending on the severity of the situation, post-infidelity stress disorder affects your ability to form relationships, work, and even take care of yourself. Painful memories and intrusive thoughts can make it hard to concentrate or eat, and you may feel like you’re in a constant state of anxiety.
PISD is not currently recognized as a formal diagnosis by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but that doesn’t mean it’s not real – infidelity can cause interpersonal trauma. Many people suffer from long-term effects as a result.
If you think you might be suffering from post-infidelity stress disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with the support and guidance you need to heal and move on with your life.
How Does Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder Develop?
There is no one single cause of post-infidelity stress disorder – rather, it is the result of a combination of factors.
The first and perhaps most obvious factor is the experience of infidelity itself. This can be extremely traumatic, particularly if it was unexpected or came out of nowhere.
In addition, other stressors are often present in the situation, such as financial problems, relationship difficulties, or even infidelity in previous relationships. The feeling of stress elsewhere in your life can make it harder to cope with the betrayal of trust that comes with being cheated on.
Childhood experiences may also play a role in the development of PISD. If you experienced trauma or neglect as a child, you might be more prone to developing anxiety and depression in adulthood. This can make it harder to cope with stressors like infidelity.
There is also often a genetic component to post-infidelity stress disorder. If your parents or grandparents suffered from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health conditions, you might be more likely to experience these conditions yourself.
Symptoms of Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder
The symptoms of post-infidelity stress disorder can vary depending on the individual. However, there are some common signs and symptoms that might be present.
One of the most common symptoms of PISD is intrusive thoughts. This means that you can’t stop thinking about infidelity, even when you want to. Your betraying partner, the affair, and the details of what happened can all become obsessions that you can’t shake. This can lead to the development of trust issues and mental health issues.
You might also find that you’re constantly on edge, feeling like you need to be on guard against further betrayal. This can manifest as hypervigilance, which is when you’re always on the lookout for signs that something is wrong. If you have infidelity trauma from a previous relationship, it might affect the quality of future relationships.
You might also experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches. These can be the result of stress and anxiety, and they can make it difficult to function in day-to-day life.
Emotional numbing is another common symptom of post-infidelity stress disorder. This means that you might start feeling disconnected from your emotions or not feeling anything at all. This numbing can be a way to protect yourself from the pain of what’s happened, but it can also lead to further difficulties in your life.
How Does PISD Get Diagnosed?
If you have experienced a betraying partner and you’re struggling with the aftermath, it’s important to seek professional help.
A therapist can assess your symptoms and provide a diagnosis of PISD. They will also be able to offer support and guidance as you work through the healing process.
It’s also important to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. If you’ve experienced a traumatic event other than infidelity, such as the death of a loved one, you might be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Similarly, if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, it’s important to get treatment for those conditions as well.
Although PISD isn’t officially recognised as a diagnosis by the DSM, it’s still a real and debilitating condition. If you’re struggling with the aftermath of infidelity, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Treatments and Therapies For Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder
There are a number of different approaches that can help treat post-infidelity stress disorder.
One common treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help you change the negative thought patterns contributing to your anxiety and depression. CBT can also help you to learn new coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
Couples therapy is another option that can be helpful. This type of therapy is focused on repairing the damage that’s been done to your relationship. Couples therapy can help you to communicate more effectively, work through trust issues, and rebuild your relationship (if that’s what you wish to do).
Medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, can also help treat post-infidelity stress disorder. These medications can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, working with a mental health professional is important to ensure that the medication is right for you.
Family therapies might be a good option if other family members are also struggling with the aftermath of infidelity. This therapy can help improve communication and rebuild trust within your family.
There is an abundance of mental health services available, so it’s important to find the right fit for you. If you’re struggling with post-infidelity stress disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
The Healing Process of PISD
The best way to cope with post-infidelity stress disorder is to start the healing process as soon as possible. Regaining confidence in yourself and your ability to trust again can be a long and difficult journey, but it’s one that’s worth taking.
One of the first steps in healing is to forgive yourself. It’s important to remember that you’re not responsible for what happened. The infidelity was not your fault. Forgiving yourself will help you to move on from the guilt and shame that you might be feeling.
Self-care is also an essential part of the healing process. Make sure to take time for yourself and do things that make you happy. This might include getting regular exercise, spending time with friends and family, or taking up a new hobby. Practice self-care and compassion, and be patient with yourself as you heal.
It’s important not to feel embarrassed or shy away from the conversation about infidelity. Talking about what happened can be an important part of healing from your interpersonal trauma. This can help you to make sense of what happened and start to move on.
Summary: Healing From Post Infidelity Stress Disorder
The situation you might find yourself in after experiencing a cheating partner can be very confusing, scary, and stressful. You might feel like you can’t trust anyone and that your world has been turned upside down. These are all normal reactions to infidelity.
If you’re struggling with post-infidelity stress disorder, it’s important to seek help. There are a number of different mental health services available, so it’s essential to find the right fit for you. The road to healing can be long and complicated, but it’s one that’s worth taking. With time, patience, and self-care, you can heal from this trauma and start to rebuild your life.
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