Living With Someone Who Has Ptsd
When a partner, friend, or family member has post-traumatic stress disorder it affects you, too. PTSD isnt easy to live with and it can take a heavy toll on relationships and family life. You may be hurt by your loved ones distance and moodiness or struggling to understand their behaviorwhy they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like youre walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may also have to take on a bigger share of household tasks and deal with the frustration of a loved one who wont open up. The symptoms of PTSD can even lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.
Its hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but its important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved ones nervous system is stuck in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one cant simply choose to turn off.
With the right support from you and other family and friends, though, your loved ones nervous system can become unstuck. With these tips, you can help them to finally move on from the traumatic event and enable your life together to return to normal.
Why Does Ptsd Develop
While it isnt clear why PTSD develops, there are a number of possible reasons.
- It could be an automatic survival mechanism intended to help you survive further trauma. Flashbacks force you to relive the event in detail so youre prepared if it happens again being on guard means you can react quickly if another crisis happens. While in theory this is intended to help you survive, in reality it stops you from processing your trauma and moving forward with your life
- When youre in danger, your body produces stress hormones to trigger a fight or flight reaction to help you survive. People with PTSD can have unusually high levels of stress hormones even when theyre out of danger. This could be why you feel on edge or numb
- Scans have shown changes to the part of the brain responsible for emotions and memory in people with PTSD. This can stop you processing flashbacks and nightmares properly, meaning you feel anxious
The NHS website has further explanations of why PTSD can develop.
Free Brochures And Shareable Resources
- Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Traumatic Events: This fact sheet presents information on how children and adolescents respond to traumatic events, and what family, friends, and trusted adults can do to help. Also available en español.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This brochure provides information about post-traumatic stress disorder including what it is, who develops PTSD, symptoms, treatment options, and how to find help for yourself or someone else who may have PTSD. Also available en español.
- : Help support PTSD awareness and education in your community. Use these digital resources, including graphics and messages, to spread the word about PTSD.
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What Are The Treatments For Post
The main treatments for PTSD are talk therapy, medicines, or both. PTSD affects people differently, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. If you have PTSD, you need to work with a mental health professional to find the best treatment for your symptoms.:
- Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, which can teach you about your symptoms. You will learn how to identify what triggers them and how to manage them. There are different types of talk therapy for PTSD.
- Medicines can help with the symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants may help control symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside. Other medicines can help with sleep problems and nightmares.
Why Is It Important To Seek Care For Ptsd
You deserve treatment. There are PTSD treatments that work. You can learn how to keep PTSD from hurting your relationships or causing problems at work or school. You can enjoy your life. Learn from Veterans who talk about living with PTSD and how treatment turned their lives around: AboutFace.
“Getting better” means different things for different people. In many cases, PTSD treatment can get rid of your symptoms. For other people, symptoms may be less intense or happen less often. After treatment you will have learned skills to better cope with symptoms. People who get treatment improve their quality of life.
Treatment can also help you:
- Make sense of traumatic event
- Learn skills to better handle negative thoughts and feelings
- Reconnect with people you care about
- Set goals for activities, like work or school, that you can handle
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What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as shell shock during the years of World War I and combat fatigue after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares they may feel sadness, fear or anger and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
How Is Ptsd Diagnosed
The doctor will do a mental health assessment. This means they will ask about current symptoms, past history and family history. They may do a physical examination to check that there are no other reasons for the symptoms.
The doctor may refer to a psychiatrist or psychologist. They will ask how long, how often and how intense the symptoms are, and what happened during the triggering event.
For PTSD to be diagnosed, the symptoms need to be severe enough to interfere with someones ability to function at work, socially or at home. A full diagnosis cannot be made until at least 6 months after the trauma.
Often a diagnosis can come as a relief for someone who has been suffering debilitating symptoms because it provides an explanation and a basis for beginning treatment.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd In Children
Children may have symptoms like those above or other symptoms. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults. Here are some examples of PTSD symptoms in children and teens:
- Children under 6 may get upset if their parents are not close by, have trouble sleeping, or act out the trauma in their play.
- Children ages 7 to 11 may also act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. Some have nightmares or become more irritable or aggressive. They may also want to avoid school or have trouble with schoolwork or friends.
- Children age 12 to 18 have symptoms more similar to adults: depression, anxiety, withdrawal, or reckless behavior like substance abuse or running away.
Further Resources And Information
The Birth Trauma Association helps people who have been traumatised by childbirth.
Cruse Bereavement Care provides information and support to anyone who has been bereaved. They have information about traumatic bereavement.
Disaster Action supports people affected by major disasters.
PTSD Resolution provides counselling to veterans, reservists and their families.
PTSD UK provides support and information to anyone experiencing PTSD.
Rape Crisis supports women and girls who have been sexually abused or raped. They also signpost to help for men and boys.
Victim Support helps people affected by crime. They offer emotional and practical support, no matter how long ago the crime happened.
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How Does Ptsd Happen
During a trauma, your body responds to a threat by going into âflight or fightâ mode. It releases stress hormones, like adrenaline and norepinephrine, to give you a burst of energy. Your heart beats faster. Your brain also puts some of its normal tasks, such as filing short-term memories, on pause.
PTSD causes your brain to get stuck in danger mode. Even after youâre no longer in danger, it stays on high alert. Your body continues to send out stress signals, which lead to PTSD symptoms. Studies show that the part of the brain that handles fear and emotion is more active in people with PTSD.
Over time, PTSD changes your brain. The area that controls your memory becomes smaller. Thatâs one reason experts recommend that you seek treatment early.
Ptsd Symptoms In Children
In children especially very young children the symptoms of PTSD can differ from those of adults and may include:
- Fear of being separated from their parent.
- Losing previously-acquired skills .
- Sleep problems and nightmares.
- Somber, compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated.
- New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma .
- Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings.
- Aches and pains with no apparent cause.
- Irritability and aggression.
Do you have PTSD?
If you answer yes to three or more of the questions below, you may have PTSD and its worthwhile to visit a qualified mental health professional.
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How To Diagnose Ptsd
The first step in diagnosing trauma is making an appointment with a doctor, preferably someone trained in mental health disorders. The doctor will talk with the patient to determine their state of mind. The practitioner will have to determine whether the prerequisite symptoms for PTSD are present before deciding how to proceed. For a diagnosis of PTSD, the patient must have experienced the following for at least one month:
- At least one event in which they re-experience symptoms
- At least three avoidance symptoms
- At least two hyperarousal symptoms
- Symptoms that interfere with daily life activities
Different Types Of Ptsd
When youre diagnosed with PTSD, you might be told it is mild, moderate or severe. This describes how your symptoms are affecting you.
You might also be told you have a specific type of PTSD.
- Complex PTSD can be caused by repeated trauma such as violence, neglect or abuse. As well as the symptoms of PTSD, you may also experience shame or guilt, have difficulty controlling your emotions, feel numb or spaced out or try to cope through self-harm or alcohol or misuse
- Birth trauma can develop after a traumatic childbirth experience
- Delayed-onset PTSD is where your symptoms began more than six months after experiencing trauma
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How To Recognize Ptsd
How to recognize PTSD without raising tensions is to look for avoidance symptoms, such as unreasonable guilt, fretfulness and depression. Observe if your loved one avoids the place, objects or events that pertain to the traumatic experience. Determine if a lack of enthusiasm for activities that were previously enjoyable is present. Also, be aware of hyperarousal symptoms. These can be outbursts of anger, sleep disturbances, tension or being easily startled.
How To Help Someone With Post
Post-traumatic stress disorder sometimes occurs when a traumatic event is experienced. The illness is marked by uncontrollable thoughts, extreme anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks. PTSD sometimes causes short-term memory loss and can have long-term chronic psychological repercussions. Its imperative to seek treatment for PTSD as early as possible. Symptoms can become more severe over time, and for some people, PTSD can last for many years.
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Where To Find Help
here to help now
You are not alone. Help may be one phone call or text away. If you feel suicidal, alone, or overwhelmed, call 911 or contact one of these 24-hour hotlines:
- US Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or text 838255
- Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741
If you believe you have either PTSD or depression, make an appointment to see a healthcare provider. They can recommend or refer you to a mental health specialist for evaluation and treatment.
If youre a veteran and need help, call the Veteran Center Call Center hotline at 1-877-927-8387. At this number, youll get to talk with another combat veteran. Family members can also speak to other family members of vets with PTSD and depression.
find a counselor in your area
- United Way Helpline : Call 1-800-233-4357
- Mental Health America : Call 800-237-TALK or text MHA to 741741
If you dont have a doctor or mental health specialist you see regularly in your area, call your local hospitals patient outreach office.
They can help you find a doctor or provider near you that treats the conditions youre seeking to cover.
Tip : Support Ptsd Treatment With A Healthy Lifestyle
The symptoms of PTSD can be hard on your body so its important to take care of yourself and develop some healthy lifestyle habits.
Take time to relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, massage, or yoga can activate the bodys relaxation response and ease symptoms of PTSD.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. When youre struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, you may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But substance use worsens many symptoms of PTSD, interferes with treatment, and can add to problems in your relationships.
Eata healthy diet. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day. Omega-3s play a vital role in emotional health so incorporate foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts into your diet. Limit processed food, fried food, refined starches, and sugars, which can exacerbate mood swings and cause fluctuations in your energy.
Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can trigger anger, irritability, and moodiness. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual and make your bedroom as quiet, dark, and soothing as possible.
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Ptsd Can Be Treatedyes Theres Hope
If you are overwhelmed by symptoms or negative thoughts that you suspect are related to PTSD, you should contact your health care team to discuss the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis. You can also contact a local mental health facility, like McLean, to get the help you need. You dont have to struggle on your ownthere is a path to recovery.
If you recognize the symptoms in a friend or loved one, you should always reach out to them and offer support. Whether they accept your help or not, knowing that youve offered can be incredibly helpful to those who are affected by mental illness.
How Long After Trauma Does Ptsd Start
The first symptoms can begin within weeks of a traumatic event and need to continue for up to three months or longer to be considered PTSD.
It is important after a traumatic event to get whatever help you need. This can be talking to friends and family or accessing information and resources and professional help that help you feel you can continue with your life, says Dr Kriegeskotten.
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Learning To Cope With Ptsd
You must not get so wrapped up in your loved ones disorder that you neglect yourself. Dont feel guilty for not having all the answers no one does. Remind yourself that you cant speed up the process of recovery as these things always take time. Make time for your family and remember all the good things in your life. Learning to cope with PTSD is equally important for your well-being. Keep in mind that in a given year, approximately 5.2 million people suffer from PTSD. That means almost as many caregivers are dealing were with the disorder. You and your loved one arent alone.
Talk to your family about concerns you might have. You need their support. Learn methods of relaxation, like meditation or yoga, that can help you take a break. Use positive activities as a distraction. Make an effort to spend time with people who arent connected to your loved ones trauma. Dont allow yourself to be suffocated by the PTSD.