A young woman is experiencing PTSD-like symptoms from cheating.

Yes, PTSD From Cheating Is Real—Here’s How to Heal

How PTSD-like symptoms may present after infidelity, and practical steps you can take to address them and care for your mental health.


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Dealing with the aftermath of infidelity can leave deep emotional scars akin to the lasting impact of a traumatic experience. The impact of cheating on mental health can be profound, particularly if the betrayal significantly undermines the individual’s sense of trust and security. For some, this can lead to a mental health condition, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD-like symptoms. 

Whether you’re navigating this turmoil yourself or supporting someone who is, understanding the complexities of healing from cheating-induced PTSD is crucial. Below, we delve into signs of PTSD from cheating, as well as the emotional and practical steps of recovering from an affair. 

Signs of PTSD from cheating

Signs of PTSD resulting from cheating can manifest in various emotional, psychological, and physical ways. Here are some common symptoms to look for

  • Intrusive thoughts about the cheating incident
  • Flashbacks of the infidelity as if it’s happening again
  • Nightmares about cheating or related themes 
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the infidelity
  • Feeling detached from emotions 
  • Hypervigilance; being excessively alert and on edge 
  • Intense anxiety or even panic attacks
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or depression
  • Irritability and anger 
  • Unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, etc.

It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences infidelity will develop PTSD. The development of PTSD depends on various factors, including the individual’s mental health history, the nature of the relationship, the circumstances surrounding the infidelity, and the availability of social support.

If someone is experiencing significant distress after an incident of infidelity, seeking support from a mental health professional can be very beneficial. Therapy can help individuals process their emotions, rebuild their sense of self, and develop strategies for moving forward.

Heal from cheating PTSD in 5 steps

Healing from cheating-induced PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms will look different for everyone, but here are five steps to start the healing journey.

1. Acknowledge your feelings

Recognize the impact that the cheating had on you. Understand that discovering infidelity can be traumatic and can lead to symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, betrayal trauma, anxiety, emotional distress, and others outlined above.

2. Seek support

Connect with loved ones. Spend time with family and friends who provide support and understanding. It’s also important to seek professional support. This can include joining support groups for people who have experienced infidelity, seeking individual counseling to manage PTSD symptoms, or a more intensive option. Also, if you choose to work on the relationship after infidelity, a couples therapist or marriage counselor can facilitate honest communication, rebuild trust, and navigate the complex emotions that arise for both partners.

3. Educate yourself

Educate yourself about the dynamics of having an unfaithful partner, the emotional rollercoaster it creates, and how it impacts individuals and relationships. This can be done with the help of a therapist or another licensed mental health professional.

4. Practice self-care

Maintain a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise, yoga, wholesome nutrition, and adequate sleep. Practice mindfulness, deep breathing, meditation, or other relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety.

5. Set boundaries

Establish boundaries that remove any possible triggers and make you feel safe and respected in your relationships and communicate those needs clearly to your partner or others involved.

How Charlie Health can help

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress after infidelity, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides mental health treatment for dealing with serious mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, trauma-related conditions, and more. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic online therapy, managing your mental health is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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