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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Real World Stress After Incarceration

08/14/2006

Question:

My husband was incarcerated for 3 years and 2 months. (not a violent crime) He had never even had so much as a speeding ticket before. We have been together for an acess of 20 years. So this was all new to us. He has been home for approx. 1 month. I realize that there is some readjusting to be done for all of us, our 3 minor children and my self included. Sometimes it gets really hard. Nobody can do anything right or good enough. He`s always fixing something around the house, he can`t sit still. He started back to work 2 days ago. Things seem to be better, but I`m worried that this isn`t nearly over. I have heard of PTSD from our 28 year old son who was in Iraq. He has similar symptoms. He went to see a counselor and they told him that this disorder doesn`t go away by itself. The person must first admit to having it and also want to work on it? Are there any books about our special situation? Why doesn`t the state help prepare these men for re-entering the world? Please I welcome any advice you might be able to give to help us through this. Signed, Loving Wife and Mother

Answer:

It certainly sounds like your family is undergoing some serious challenges right now, and that you are doing an excellent job identifying them.  I can't answer your question about "why doesn't the state help prepare these men for re-entering the world?" but you might check out the following web site (http://www.lac.org/lac/) which contains resources from the legal action counsel on After Prison: Roadblocks to Re-entry.  You might find some specific help from one of these resources.

I believe you are right about the need for counseling, however it is not just your husband who needs the counseling, it is you and your children as well.  The entire family has been disrupted, both by the time in prison and now the return to your home.  All of you have learned to cope and adapt differently, and you can all benefit by expert counseling and help on how to reconnect as a family.  If your husband doesn't want to go to counseling, then you and the children should go by yourselves.  This is an important step toward becoming a functional family again.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati