Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms impact the emotional experience of intimacy during couple discussions

Feea R. Leifker, Kaitlin Hanley White, Alysia Y. Blandon, Amy D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We examined the impact of PTSD symptom severity on emotional reactions to one's own and one's partner's intimacy behaviors. Heterosexual, community couples in which at least one partner reported elevated symptoms of PTSD were video-recorded discussing a relationship problem and self-reported their emotions immediately before and after the discussion. Each partner's intimacy behaviors were coded. Actor-Partner Interdependence Models indicate that, among those with greater PTSD symptom severity, partners' caring, understanding, and validation were associated with increased negative emotions, particularly fear. Among those with greater PTSD severity, provision of caring was associated with decreased anger, guilt, and sadness. Therefore, the receipt of intimacy was associated with increased negative emotions among individuals with elevated PTSD symptoms while provision of intimacy was associated with decreased negative emotions. Existing treatments for PTSD should consider the emotional context of provision and receipt of intimacy to more fully address relationship problems among couples dealing with PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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