What Is Post Infidelity Stress Disorder?

Updated February 17, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When you are in a relationship with someone who chooses to be unfaithful to you, it can cause lasting effects for many months or years to come. Even when a person wants to move forward, the road can often be long and difficult. When infidelity crosses over into your mental health space, this can cause a lasting disorder called post infidelity stress disorder or PISD. PISD can make it difficult for a person to be in future relationships and can be the root cause of trust issues in their lives moving forward. Depending on the person, it can cause them to be angry and lash out at their partner, or it can make them very reserved and reluctant to begin or continue romantic relationships. Healing from PISD can be vital to finding healthy, fulfilling relationships in the future and maintaining positive mental health.

Therapy Can Help Ease The Effects Of Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

Similarities To PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, occurs following a traumatic event in a person’s life. It is an ongoing and progressive disease, meaning that if untreated, the effects typically get worse on their own, not better.

PISD is similar to PTSD in many ways. While its effects only tend to last about a week to a few months, during this period, a person can experience flashbacks similar to those experienced among people with PTSD. You may replay the sequence of events that led up to you finding out about your partner’s infidelity. You could also relive moments when your partner stayed out late after work or took a mysterious phone call.

It is not uncommon for someone struggling with PISD to equate all mysterious activities to cheating. These assumptions can cause severe emotional blows to the person who is hurting, and the emotional wounds that result can be long-lasting.

Another similarity between PTSD and PISD is insomnia or difficulty sleeping. Both disorders can make it difficult to settle at night or can cause sleep patterns to be erratic. Sleepless nights can make matters worse, and it can be vital to dedicate at least eight to nine hours each night to sleep. 

Trust Issues

One of the primary and most apparent outcomes of PISD is trust issues. Trust can be one of the most important aspects of a relationship. The emotional stress caused by not trusting your partner can make the relationship devoid of meaning. After a person has been cheated on, they may feel betrayed, and this can cause them to be hesitant to trust in the future. The pain and turmoil caused by infidelity can be severe.

If you or a person you love is struggling with PISD, remember that patience is one of the most important things you can practice when you are trying to conquer the disorder. Even though you may feel like the onset happened rather quickly, the healing process can take time.

Changes In Personality Or Interests

While you are coping with the effects of PISD, you may find yourself losing interest in things that would generally interest you, or your personality might otherwise change. This is often because of the preoccupation with the negative events you’ve experienced. In a way, you may be distracted by your PISD and subconsciously trying to safegaurd yourself from getting hurt again. You might also think of this as a time for healing and don’t want to be bothered with outside life. However, in order to heal, it can be important to face these issues head-on. 


When we go through traumatic events, many of us choose to avoid the thoughts and feelings that result because doing so can make it easier to shuffle through our daily lives. The difficulty with this approach is that it may not do much to help, and it might even make a situation worse. Avoidance can typically be a temporary stage of the disorder. In order for you to cope with what has happened to you and move on, it can help to proactively take steps toward healing. If you have avoided the issues you are experiencing for some time, you may not know how to move forward. Speaking with a professional and making lifestyle changes can help you develop a plan for healing. 


After you experience a betrayal, you might find yourself being particularly sensitive to the world around you. Sudden movements or loud noises are examples of things that could be especially noticeable to you while you are coping with the effects of your situation. However, hyperarousal could also refer to overthinking situations, not trusting people you’ve known for a while, or having emotional reactions that don’t match the situation at hand. You might also experience symptoms like irritability, aggressiveness, difficulty concentrating, and more.

Therapy Can Help Ease The Effects Of Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

After learning that your significant other has been unfaithful, you may need time to recover and decide what to do next. If you’re looking for guidance and encouragement during this time, it can be helpful to connect with a licensed online therapist through BetterHelp. BetterHelp can match you with a therapist who understands trauma and its impact on the body and mind.

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Recent studies show that electronically delivered therapy is as effective as traditional face-to-face counseling and offers additional perks. This study, conducted by Brigham Young University researchers, found that technology-based therapy provides other added benefits including, “lower cost, no travel time, no waitlists, and trackable progress.”

Therapist Reviews

"I came to Dr. Flowers regarding infidelity and trouble with a long-term relationship and her sessions provided me with a lot of clarity. Dr. Flowers took the time to understand my situation and feelings which was reflected in the advice and homework assignments she assigned. I highly recommend Dr. Flowers for anyone going through big life changes and transitions!"

“Dr. Harrell was there for me and helped me get to the issues of my problems and triggers. I am a much better person and feel like a new person. I am pursuing a dream that I never thought would be possible to achieve. Me and my wife are again on speaking terms with a small glimmer of hope. I honestly wouldn't be where I am now without her support.”

The Takeaway

Talking about sensitive topics like infidelity can be challenging, and it can be tempting to stay quiet about the things that have hurt you. However, these feelings can be difficult to move past on your own. You may need some professional support to get to where you’re going, and there’s no shame in that. Investing in the process of online counseling can help you process your feelings and work toward a healthier, happier life.

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