How To Support Someone Close To You With Ptsd
It can be just as challenging being in a relationship with someone with PTSD even if you dont live with them. Since social interaction with family and close friends can help those with PTSD overcome their disorder, its important to let your friend know that they have your support. Often, this small gesture can have a powerful influence on PTSD sufferers because it encourages open communication.
Additionally, if your loved one or close friend needs todiscuss their feelings or what theyre going through, listen actively, and avoid giving unnecessary advice. Instead, let your friend speak freely, express what theyre feeling, or ask for further help coping.
Encourage your loved one to participate in relaxing activities with you. Choose activities that are relaxing and that wont induce stress. Some fun and relaxing activities to do with friends include yoga, biking, walking along nature trails, and other peaceful activities that can help reduce stress and boost both of your moods. Its also important to let your friend bring up their trauma if they feel they need to. In this case, listen and avoid changing the topic of discussion. This open communication is something that can help them heal.
Things I Learned From Dating Someone With Ptsd
One lesson: Caring for yourself is essential.
How we see the world shapes who we choose to be and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.
Theres nothing that can make you feel as powerless as living with a partner with post-traumatic stress disorder .
For three years, I was in a relationship with a man who experienced PTSD symptoms daily. My ex, D., was a decorated combat veteran who served in Afghanistan three times. The toll it took on his soul was heartbreaking.
His flashbacks and dreams of the past drove him to be hypervigilant, fear strangers, and fend off sleep to avoid nightmares.
Being the partner of someone who has PTSD can be challenging and frustrating for many reasons. You want to take away their pain, but youre also dealing with your own guilt at needing to care for yourself, too.
You want to have all the answers, but you often have to come to grips with the reality that this is a condition that cant be loved out of someone.
That said, understanding the disorder can help make it easier for both you and your partner to communicate and set healthy boundaries.
I spent years trying to understand how PTSD affected my partner, and, ultimately, had to walk away from our relationship. Heres what I learned.
Love Isnt Always Enough
Many people who have relationships with someone with PTSD assume the role of caretaker. At least, this was the case with me.
I wanted to be the one person who didnt abandon D. I wanted to show him love can conquer all and that, with the right person, love could help him reinforce and reinstate a healthy lifestyle.
As heartbreaking as it is to admit, love often doesnt conquer all. This realization came in waves over the three years we were together, mixed with intense feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Its an illusion, this idea that we can save people, Wen says. Its ultimately their responsibility as an adult to seek help, or to ask for help, even if it isnt their fault that they experienced trauma. We cannot make anyone take the help.
Look After Your Own Mental Health
It’s important to remember that your mental health matters too. Our pages on supporting someone else to seek help, how to cope when supporting someone else, managing stress and maintaining your wellbeingall have lots of information and tips on how to look after yourself.
Support options for you
A traumatic event can have a major impact not just on those who lived through it, but also on that person’s close family, friends and colleagues.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your GPabout how you’re feeling, and ask if they can offer you any or support.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare – says professionals should consider the impact of traumatic events on relatives and think about how to provide appropriate care.
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
People With Ptsd Often Feel Unlovable
D. is beautiful inside and out. Not only is he strikingly handsome, he is smart, caring, and compassionate. But he didnt feel he was deserving of love, or even remotely loveable.
Traumatic experiences, in addition to being scary and impacting our sense of safety, very often have a direct effect on our cognition, says Irina Wen, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Health.
Usually those effects are negative. As a result, the patient might start feeling undeserving and unlovable, or that the world is a dangerous place and people should not be trusted, she explains.
Over time, these negative thoughts become generalized so that negativity permeates all aspects of life. They can also carry over into a relationship.
D. would often ask me what I saw in him, how I could love him. This deep insecurity shaped how I treated him, with more reassurances without prompting.
D. needed a lot of time and attention from me. Because he had lost so much in his life, he had an almost controlling grip on me, from needing to know every detail of my whereabouts and having meltdowns when the plan changed last minute, to expecting me to be loyal to him above my own parents, even when I felt he didnt always deserve it.
In believing that he was unlovable, D. also created scenarios that cast him as such. When he was angry, hed express it by taking horrific jabs at me.
How To Treat Ptsd
If self-coping doesnt work for your loved one, youll need to know how to treat PTSD another way. Find a doctor to talk to and offer to go to the visit together. Many people find answers in formal treatment. Psychotherapy and medication are very effective for recovering from a trauma. Learn about cognitive behavioral therapy and medications used to treat PTSD, and share this information with your loved one.
Healthy Ways Of Coping With Ptsd Anxiety
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder often struggle with frequent and intense symptoms of . These strong symptoms of anxiety often lead people with PTSD to rely on unhealthy ways of , such as through drug or alcohol use.??
Fortunately, there are a number of healthy ways of coping with anxiety. These strategies may help reduce the intensity of anxiety, lessen its frequency, and/or make it more tolerable.
Give Us Permission To Be Imperfect
For a lot of us with complex trauma, we struggle with perfectionism. Pete Walker calls this the inner critic, which so many survivors grapple with in recovery.
For some of us, perfectionism was a coping mechanism run amok, in which we desperately tried to better ourselves to earn the love or attachment that we lacked by correcting our supposed shortcomings .
This inner critic can also be the voice we internalized, like when youre a bad child suddenly becomes Im a bad child. The external criticisms or neglect we endured suddenly became the mantras we took on as we were further and further traumatized.
Which is to say, a lot of survivors who are dealing with complex trauma really struggle with being imperfect.
For me personally, I believed for a long time that if people truly got to know me, they wouldnt be able to love me. So I spent a good amount of time trying to make myself better, with the hopes that I would someday be good enough for the people in my life.
I think this is why its powerful when our loved ones give us permission to be imperfect. Some examples:
- You dont have to be perfect for me or for anyone else. Im going to be in your corner no matter what.
- Its true that you make mistakes. But you always work hard to make things right, and thats what matters.
- In my eyes, youre already lovable and youre already worthy.
- Trust me. If somethings wrong, Im going to tell you, and I promise well work through it.
What Should I Know About Participating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
Arousal And Reactivity Symptoms
- Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling irritable and having angry or aggressive outbursts
- Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior
Arousal symptoms are often presentthey can lead to feelings of stress and anger and may interfere with parts of daily life, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
Positive Ways Of Dealing With Ptsd
The idea of positively dealing with PTSD can seem absurd when you are living the nightmare that PTSD can be. It is natural to feel as though your entire world, internal and external, has shattered, and if you sometimes feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with PTSD, youre not alone . Feeling lost, broken, and unable to cope are common experiences of people living with PTSD. These thoughts and emotions arise from the trauma and are tricks that PTSD plays on your brain. PTSD is something youre dealing with; it is not who you are. But how can you deal with PTSD? Here are 10 positive ways of dealing with PTSD to get you started.
Understanding Ptsd And Its Symptoms
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Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition that can affect someone who has experienced a traumatic event. Traumatic events, such as a life-or-death situation like an assault or a tour of duty during wartime, can be emotionally and mentally debilitating and cause those who experience this kind of trauma to suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. Some who suffer from PTSD are able to recover and overcome their condition, while others suffer from PTSD for years or the rest of their lives.
Its important to understand the symptoms of PTSD in the event that someone you know is suffering from this condition. According to theAnxiety and Depression Association of America , PTSD is marked by depression and severe anxiety but can come with behavioral, psychological, and physical symptoms, including:
- Agitation and irritability.
- Emotional detachment.
- Social isolation.
In extreme cases, those who suffer from PTSD may have self-destructive behaviors and symptoms, such as self-medication with drugs or alcohol, suicidal thoughts, or explicit actions. No matter the severity of someones PTSD, though, you can offer support and help in a variety of ways.
Getting Professional Help For Ptsd
If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, its important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. If youre reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.
Its only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, PTSD will only get worse. You cant escape your emotions completelythey emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guardand trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.
Why you should seek help for PTSD
Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.
PTSD symptoms can change family life. PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.
How Can Anger After A Trauma Become A Problem
In people with PTSD, their response to extreme threat can become “stuck.” This may lead to responding to all stress in survival mode. If you have PTSD, you may be more likely to react to any stress with “full activation.” You may react as if your life or self were threatened.
This automatic response of irritability and anger in those with PTSD can create serious problems in the workplace and in family life. It can also affect your feelings about yourself and your role in society.
Researchers have broken down posttraumatic anger into three key aspects, discussed below. These three factors can lead someone with PTSD to react with anger, even in situations that do not involve extreme threat:
Anger is marked by certain reactions in the body. The systems most closely linked to emotion and survival heart, circulation, glands, brain are called into action. Anger is also marked by the muscles becoming tense. If you have PTSD, this higher level of tension and arousal can become your normal state. That means the emotional and physical feelings of anger are more intense.
Often the best response to extreme threat is to act aggressively to protect yourself. Many trauma survivors, especially those who went through trauma at a young age, never learn any other way of handling threat. They tend to become stuck in their ways of reacting when they feel threatened. They may be impulsive, acting before they think.
Thoughts and beliefs
Help Them To Find Support
If they want you to, you could help your friend or family member to find further support. For example you could:
- look through the list of relevant organisations in our page on useful contacts for PTSD
- see our pages on supporting someone who is self-harming and supporting someone who feels suicidal if someone you care about is harming themselves or struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Common Internal Ptsd Triggers
- Physical discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, and sexual frustration.
- Any bodily sensation that recalls the trauma, including pain, old wounds and scars, or a similar injury.
- Strong emotions, especially feeling helpless, out of control, or trapped.
- Feelings toward family members, including mixed feelings of love, vulnerability, and resentment.
Care For Yourself In The Process
Being the main support figure of a person experiencing PTSD is a heavyweight to bear. If you want to be helpful, make sure you dont let your loved ones PTSD overshadow your own life. Its easy to be completely encapsulated by the trauma as you listen to their experiences and see their symptoms firsthand, but doing so can drain you emotionally and physically.
Ensure that, as you help the victim recover, youre meeting your own physical needs and having a support system of your own in place. Continue doing things that make you happy each day to be positive and cheerful when you are needed. You should also distribute your responsibility among several people so that no one person is carrying the majority of the weight.
Remind Them About How Their Nervous System Works
Its power to color experience is awesome. We have all had it happen; we are having a high stress day and our ability to cope plummets. Even minor setbacks feel life threatening.
Our early relationships with our parents largely shape our autonomic nervous system. So if your loved one grew up in what I call a high threat home they will be in the habit of responding as if everything is a threat. In essence, they are living with constant emotional memory flashbacks. The exact opposite can happen too, and we can become adept at , disconnection and emotional numbing.
The threat brain works by convincing us there really is an emergency. After all, if it werent so compelling, our survival brain wouldnt be doing its job well. It can be helpful to remind yourself and your loved one that the problem isnt the specific situation- its the habitual triggered reaction.
Cognition And Mood Symptoms
- Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
- Distorted thoughts about the event that cause feelings of blame
- Ongoing negative emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt, or shame
- Loss of interest in previous activities
- Feelings of social isolation
- Difficulty feeling positive emotions, such as happiness or satisfaction
Cognition and mood symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event and can lead a person to feel detached from friends or family members.
Where Can I Find More Information On Ptsd
The National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is the leading federal center for research and education on PTSD and traumatic stress. You can find information about PTSD, treatment options, and getting help, as well as additional resources for families, friends, and providers.
Let Love Be The Foundation
Signs of PTSD will not always show; they will only surface when they are triggered by a memory or even with a simple body gesture. Once you find out you are dating a PTSD victim, make sure you are dating him or her out of love and affection, not out of pity. Being with someone who has PTSD can be really stressful for you especially when symptoms are triggered, so make sure your relationship is backed up by love and you do share some common interests and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t let your sympathy manipulate you into believing that getting involved romantically with some unfortunate PTSD victim is going to help that person, because eventually both of you will be overwhelmed and a tragic end is inevitable.
Lack Of Emotional Regulation
Many people who live with Complex PTSD struggle with a lack of emotional regulation. They may get angry over small things, and they may have intense emotions and urges that are difficult for them to control. You may notice that anger transforms into rage or that you scream louder than you did before. Sudden mood swings are particularly common. You will find it difficult to control your emotions because of the severity of your inability to process the intensity of the trauma. Eventually, things do stabilize, so remember that all of this is temporary.
Leaving Events Early Or Canceling Last
I go home. I leave early, I leave big events, I leave when I want to stay because I can only handle so much. I wish people knew I left because I felt like I needed to. I wanted to stay. Brittany P.
Tell people yes to coming to events or friend outings and cancel last-second because I cant pull myself together. Im sure they assume I just dont care, but it breaks my heart. It steals so many precious memories from me. Erin C.
Tip 4: Anticipate And Manage Triggers
A trigger is anythinga person, place, thing, or situationthat reminds your loved one of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom, such as a flashback. Sometimes, triggers are obvious. For example, a military veteran might be triggered by seeing his combat buddies or by the loud noises that sound like gunfire. Others may take some time to identify and understand, such as hearing a song that was playing when the traumatic event happened, for example, so now that song or even others in the same musical genre are triggers. Similarly, triggers dont have to be external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.
Try To Understand Our Fears Instead Of Writing Them Off As Irrational
People with PTSD experience terror that can be debilitating. This is a terror that is often impervious to logic, which means that trying to reason with people who have PTSD is one of the quickest ways to alienate them. Instead of trying to talk them out of their fears, let them talk to you. Ask questions. Listen. Let them know that you understand. You dont have to understand the exact nature of their terror; you simply need to understand that it is, in fact, terror. ? Chin
Seeking Out Social Support
Talking with others as a way of “getting your emotions out” can be effective in preventing anger from building up inside. For one thing, it can help you see another person’s point of view. It also gives you the opportunity to express your frustrations in a constructive way.
Of course, it’s important to make sure that you reach out to people you trust who will understand and support your feelings. Support groups for PTSD are widely available and many people have found them to be a great help with their own challenges.
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Helping Someone With Ptsd
This page provides suggestions and help on how to help rebuild the trust and safety between you both, along with information on how to help deal with flashbacks or panic attacks and anger that may result from PTSD.
TIPS FOR REBUILDING TRUST AND SAFETY
Trauma alters the way a person sees the world, making it seem like a perpetually dangerous and frightening place. It also damages peoples ability to trust others and themselves.
Anything you can do to rebuild your loved ones sense of security will contribute to recovery. This means cultivating a safe environment, acting in a dependable and reassuring way, and stepping in to help when needed. But it also means finding ways to empower the person. Smothering someone with PTSD or doing things for them that theyre capable of doing for themselves is counterproductive. Better to build their confidence and self-trust by giving them more choices and control.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE YOUR LOVED ONES SENSE OF SAFETY
ENCOURAGING AND SUPPORTING TREATMENT
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized needprofessional PTSD treatment. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
HOW TO HELP IN THE MIDDLE OF A FLASHBACK OR PANIC ATTACK
TIPS FOR COPING WITH PTSD IN THE FAMILY