Be Prepared For Things That Are Out Of Your Control
Even with the best of intentions, the most accurate information, and the most wholehearted intentions to help, be prepared for times that feel incredibly challenging. You have to expect the unexpected.
You should also be aware that the times you cant control a situation will feel daunting. You may feel like youre being disrespected or underappreciated. Dont be afraid to communicate how you are feeling, assuring them that you dont want to abandon them but explaining that you arent sure what the best way to support them is.
Tip : 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.
Support Their Need For Space
After a traumatic event, its common to lose a sense of safety. Your loved one might feel anxious and be on guard. Be mindful of their personal space. Avoid touching, like giving hugs, without their expressed permission.
Space can also refer to emotional space, which can be very important for supporting a loved one. An example of emotional space would be not pressuring them to speak about the experience of the event or their PTSD reactions but letting them know youre there if they need you.
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Look Out For Warning Signs
You might see a change in the behaviour of the person you want to support. For example:
- a change in their mood, such as often feeling low, anxious, upset, angry or irritated
- a change in performance at work, such as lateness or missing deadlines
- a change in energy levels, such as extreme alertness or a lack of concentration.
If you notice these sorts of changes in someone close to you, you could ask them how they are feeling. This might encourage them to open up.
First Off What Is Ptsd
For those of you who don’t know, PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. It’s a mental health disorder that occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses a terrifying or traumatic event themselves, learns a loved one experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, or is in whatever way exposed to other people’s trauma, says psychotherapist Elizabeth Beecroft, LMSW.
And while PTSD may be most commonly associated with military experience, it can also stem from racial trauma, sexual assaults, watching videos or witnessing individuals being hurt, domestic abuse, and more.
PTSD can last for months or even years with symptoms that include flashbacks of the event, avoidance of triggers, nightmares, severe anxiety or depression, and other intense emotional or physical responses, says Beecroft.
It’s important to note that everyone’s PTSD looks different depending on an individual’s circumstance, thoughso what may be a trigger for one person could very possibly not be a trigger for another.
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Dont Try To Force Them Into Treatment
Forcing someone into mental health treatment is likely to create anger and tension, and will not help them be open with a therapist. It is important that a patient be willing to engage in therapy, and forcing someone takes away that choice. Instead, offer to help them find treatment, discuss any resistance they may feel, be patient, and express support for whatever avenue they choose regarding their mental health treatment.
What Not To Do To Help Someone With Ptsd
When trying to help someone with PTSD, people often try approaches that are not helpful and leave the person feeling unsupported. In general, taking away a persons right to choose the circumstances under which they disclose trauma and get treatment can damage your relationship with that person, and be even more detrimental to their mental health.
The following are things not to do when trying to help someone with PTSD:
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You Must Care For Yourself
Caretakers in relationships with people with PTSD often forget to take care of themselves.
I developed guilt associated with personal fulfillment or enjoyment, because its easy to get sucked into an unhealthy cycle.
When I wanted to hang out with friends without having to spend an hour talking D. down or not check in consistently while I was traveling for work to let him know I was safe, I felt guilty.
The partner of someone with PTSD will have to be strong a lot of the time. To do this, you must take care of your own mental health.
Wen agrees. When youre in a caretaker role, you have to put the mask on yourself first, she says. It must be a conscious effort to carve out time for yourself. The caretaker has to stay strong if they are to become a support system, and they need to have support and healthy outlets to maintain that.
After years of baby steps forward and monumental steps back, I ultimately made the decision to end the relationship.
It wasnt because I dont love D. I love him and miss him every moment.
But the issues surrounding PTSD that needed to be addressed called for dedicated commitment, time, and the help of a professional things he didnt say he was opposed to. Still, he never made the choices to show he was ready.
The guilt, sadness, and feeling of defeat were all encompassing. For two months I barely left my apartment. I felt like I failed him.
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.
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Learn About Their Triggers
A trigger can be anything that spurs a fear response in someone with PTSD. It can be something that to you is very ordinary, but it reminds a person with PTSD of their past trauma. Everyones triggers are unique and specific to their experiences.
Talk to your friend about what their specific triggers are, and find ways to help them avoid those whenever possible. Specific PTSD triggers can be sounds, smells, dates, people, locations or even types of weather.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd
Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but they sometimes emerge later. To meet the criteria for PTSD, symptoms must last longer than 1 month, and they must be severe enough to interfere with aspects of daily life, such as relationships or work. The symptoms also must be unrelated to medication, substance use, or other illness.
The course of the illness varies: Although some people recover within 6 months, others have symptoms that last for a year or longer. People with PTSD often have co-occurring conditions, such as depression, substance use, or one or more anxiety disorders.
After a dangerous event, it is natural to have some symptoms or even to feel detached from the experience, as though you are observing things rather than experiencing them. A health care providersuch as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social workerwho has experience helping people with mental illnesses can determine whether symptoms meet the criteria for PTSD.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom
- At least one avoidance symptom
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Breaking The Stigma Around Ptsd
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger. Being able to talk about PTSD, its effects, and the feelings or triggers that come along with traumatic exposure is important in order to overcome symptoms of the disorder on the journey to recovery.
At Diversus Health, we help active and inactive military members and veterans, as well as their families, in all aspects related to the deployment cycle. We offer resources to help individuals understand how to cope with their feelings, reactions, and stressors. Whether or not you or your loved ones are military members, Diversus Health is here to provide mental health and well-being for all. Let us help you work towards recovering from symptoms of PTSD today.
Common Mistakes When Talking With Someone Who Has Ptsd
Let’s imagine you just learned from someone she has PTSD. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with this new information. You may envision hearing details about their trauma that you don’t want to know. This might completely change how you see the person confiding in you. You might even think that you should be embarrassed for the one with PTSD. I have encountered all of these responses. To be frank, they are all emotional responses that come from a lack of education and understanding about PTSD.
Things To Avoid When Youre Living With Someone With Ptsd
Communicate as much as possible about what youre considering or planning. If theres no choice or you simply want to satisfy your own or the childrens needs, aim to at least prepare your spouse.
Things To Say To Someone With Cptsd
I hear you. Im listening.
Its not your fault what happened to you.
Your feelings matter to me. You are important to me.
What would help you right now as you feel overwhelmed and anxious? Making a list? Brainstorming what we can do together if something happens? Slowing down and breathing? Taking a break?
Im not sure what to say right now, can I sit next to you and just be here for you?
Would you like to tell me more? No pressure. Im here to listen.
Im here for you. Youre not alone.
Your reactions and symptoms make sense based on what youve been through.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are not crazy.
Youve been through a lot. I know its not my fault, but Im sorry.
The goal is to:
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Where To Find Ptsd Treatment For A Friend Or Family Member
You can contact hospitals in your area or your doctor for advice. Check with local mental health facilities or support groups that can also supply you with information. University medical centers are good resources.
Were here 24/7 to help you. Please, dont hesitate to contact us at . Right now, its not too late to stop your loved ones illness from progressing call now.
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.
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How Can You Support Someone With Ptsd
Listen to them
PTSD in romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships can be challenging, but its important to let your loved one know that youre always there to support and listen to them. Encourage them to open up to you about how theyre feeling and how the trauma is impacting on their day-to-day life, but dont pressurise them into doing so let them know that they can talk to you at their own pace and youll always be ready to listen.
Dont be judgemental
If your loved one does open up to you about how theyre feeling, its so important to avoid being judgemental. This can be worrying if you don’t know how to talk to someone with PTSD and if youve never experienced trauma or PTSD, it can be hard to fully understand what theyre going through. However, trauma is subjective everyone experiences it differently and what may be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for someone else. What your loved one is experiencing is very real to them and its crucial not to dismiss what theyre going through, make assumptions, or try and compare it to how you think you would feel in their situation.
Learn about their symptoms and triggers
Look after yourself
Help them to seek professional support
You could try to encourage them to speak to their GP about how theyre feeling, and even offer to go with them to support them. Their GP will be able to advise on next steps for treatment.
There Is Treatment Available Forveterans And Military Members With Ptsd
If you or a loved one struggles with PTSD,there is help and hope available. Help for Heroes is a dedicated treatmentprogram designed specifically for the mental health and substance abuse needsof all first responders, military service members and veterans.
Visit our locations page to find the Help for Heroes facility closest to you. Need immediate help? Active-duty military members now for immediate help.
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Eliminate Confusion About Ptsd
Be prepared to give your friend or family member the basics on PTSD. Tell them what symptoms commonly occur in PTSD and why. If you are telling someone who is going to be providing you with social support, it is important that they have a good foundation of knowledge on PTSD. They need to understand why certain symptoms and behaviors occur, what they look like and how they can be addressed.
Common External Ptsd Triggers
- Sights, sounds, or smells associated with the trauma.
- People, locations, or things that recall the trauma.
- Significant dates or times, such as anniversaries or a specific time of day.
- Conversations or media coverage about trauma or negative news events.
- Situations that feel confining .
- Relationship, family, school, work, or money pressures or arguments.
- Funerals, hospitals, or medical treatment.
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How Is Ptsd Treated
It is important for anyone with PTSD symptoms to work with a mental health professional who has experience treating PTSD. The main treatments are psychotherapy, medications, or both. An experienced mental health professional can help people find the treatment plan that meets their symptoms and needs.
Some people with PTSD may be living through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship. In these cases, treatment is usually most effective when it addresses both the traumatic situation and the symptoms. People who have PTSD or who are exposed to trauma also may experience panic disorder, depression, substance use, or suicidal thoughts. Treatment for these conditions can help with recovery after trauma. Research shows that support from family and friends also can be an important part of recovery.
For tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health and get the most out of your visit, read NIMHs fact sheet, Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider.
How To Help Someone With Ptsd Sleep
Sleep problems and anxiety disorders often go hand in hand. When your mind is restless with worry, it can be hard to get to sleep at night. However, PTSD comes with the added complication of nightmares and sleep disturbances. That means when you do get to sleep, you may not get good rest. Nightmares may wake you up, or cause restless sleep, leaving you feeling tired the next day. Sleep disorders are common health problems in the United States, but its a serious issue.
Sleep problems can contribute to several mental and physical health problems, including poor concentration, depression, obesity, and heart disease. Getting your sleep under control can be an important step in addressing broader mental health issues.
If PTSD is the reason a loved one is struggling to sleep, a few things may help in addition to treating PTSD directly. Good habits that promote sleep are called good sleep hygiene. Several ways to improve sleep hygiene include the following:
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