Helping Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
It can be hard to handle having a close friend or family member with post traumatic stress disorder . They may struggle with irritability, have problems sleeping at night, be unable to focus, feel depressed or act anxious most of the time. In fact, for some people the symptoms can be so severe that treatment at a certified post traumatic stress disorder treatment center may be necessary. PTSD treatment facilities have been shown to be very beneficial to the health and overall well-being of those with this disorder.
How can you deal with this situation? The following steps can serve as helpful tips for dealing with and loving someone with PTSD.
Things To Know If You Love Someone With Ptsd
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing something traumatic. Many people think of PTSD as a disorder that only military veterans deal with, but it can also occur in reaction to other distressing events like sexual violence, a physical assault, childhood or domestic abuse, a robbery, the sudden death of a loved one, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
Symptoms of PTSD may include vivid flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of anything or anyone that reminds them of the trauma, difficulty sleeping, irritability, being easily startled and feelings of numbness. The symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough that they disrupt the person’s ability to function at work, in their relationships and in their daily life.
Having a strong support system can help carry a person through some of the more difficult periods of PTSD, but only if those with the disorder are able to communicate what they need from their loved ones.
Below, people with the disorder share what they wish more of their well-meaning friends and family understood about loving someone with PTSD.
Tip 5: Deal With Volatility And Anger
PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.
People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have , it means they’re constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung out—increasing the likelihood that they’ll overreact to day-to-day stressors.
For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.
Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.
Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are “safe,” and prevent the situation from escalating.
Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.
Ask how you can help. For example: “What can I do to help you right now?” You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.
How Can You Support Someone With Ptsd
Listen to them
It’s important to let your loved one know that you’re always there to support and listen to them. Encourage them to open up to you about how they’re feeling and how the trauma is impacting on their day-to-day life, but don’t pressurise them into doing so – let them know that they can talk to you at their own pace and you’ll always be ready to listen.
Don’t be judgemental
If your loved one does open up to you about how they’re feeling, it’s so important to avoid being judgemental. If you’ve never experienced trauma or PTSD, it can be hard to fully understand what they’re 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 it’s crucial not to dismiss what they’re 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
Without expert support, the distressing symptoms that are associated with PTSD may become gradually worse over time and continue to have a destructive impact on an individual’s health, wellbeing and general quality of life. That’s why it’s so important for your loved one to seek help if their PTSD is becoming difficult to manage or is having a detrimental impact on their daily life.
Rebuild Trust And Safety
Trauma alters how a person with PTSD sees the making, and it might even seem like a dangerous and frightening place. If there’s any way you can rebuild their sense of security, it will contribute to their recovery in the long term. You should express your commitment to the relationship and let them know you’re here for them so that they feel supported and loved.
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.
Help Them To Relax And Get Involved In Activities
- Try to involve the person in physical activity, such as walking or swimming. Exercise burns off stress chemicals, reduces muscle tension and encourages better sleep.
- While the person needs to spend some time alone, help them to strike a balance. Socialising – even low-key events such as sitting around with friends – can help to reduce stress levels.
- Laughter is a wonderful antidote to stress. Find ways to help them to smile or laugh.
If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline 13 11 14.
Ptsd Is A Very Real Illness
PTSD is a debilitating anxiety disorder that occurs after a traumatic event, like war combat. Experts estimate 8 million adults have PTSD to varying degrees each year in the United States. Like depression or other mental and behavioral issues, it’s not something that a person can snap out of.
Symptoms arise anywhere from three months to years after the triggering event. In order to be characterized as PTSD, the person must exhibit these traits:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom . D. installed security cameras in his home to monitor threats and had terrible nightmares.
- At least one avoidance symptom. D. didn’t like crowds and would avoid activities that included a lot of people.
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms. D. had a very short fuse and would get frustrated easily when he wasn’t understood.
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms, which includes negative self-esteem, guilt, or blame. D. would often say to me, “Why do you love me? I don’t see what you see.”
D. once described his PTSD to me like a constant waiting game for ghosts to jump from around the corner. It was a reminder that bad things happened, and that that feeling might never stop. Loud noises made it worse, like thunder, fireworks, or truck backfire.
There was a time we sat outside watching fireworks, and he held my hand until my knuckles turned white, telling me the only way he could sit through them was to have me next to him.
He also had explosive outbursts of rage, which left me in tears.
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. It’s 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.
What Not To Do Or Say
- Don’t avoid talking about the event.
- Don’t think you know how the person should think, feel or behave. Everyone’s response is different.
- Don’t use general phrases such as ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘look for the silver lining’, but help them think about what they do have.
- Don’t judge their thoughts or feelings – being accepted helps put things in context.
- Don’t be impatient or expect them to ‘get over it’ in a certain time. It can take months or longer to recover from an event.
- Don’t insist they need professional help. Not everyone who experiences a distressing event needs treatment. It will be more effective if they get it when they want it, even if that is later than is ideal.
Remind Your Loved One: People Recover
Encourage them to find the right therapist.That is something that takes some effort. In order to recover from complex ptsd, it’s vital that your loved one receive competent trauma informed care. While therapists regularly encounter the survivors of trauma, most do not have much training in treating trauma.
Trauma treatment is a specialty that requires advanced clinical training. Having provided clinical supervision to Bay Area Therapists for over 15 years, I am completely unaware of any graduate school that provides even the most bare amount of trauma treatment training.
It’s vital that your loved one with C-PTSD is in treatment with a trauma therapist who:
- Provides education to the patient about the nervous system and its role in developing trauma symptoms.
- Teaches emotional regulation skills
Other Ways You Can Help Someone With Ptsd
If you are acquainted with someone with PTSD who isn’t as close as your best friend or family member, you can still offer your support in small and meaningful ways. For instance, be supportive if someone you know feels comfortable enough to share their experiences with you. While it may feel awkward, it’s important to listen to them.
Be sincere in your support, and avoid making insensitive comments like “that was a long time ago, haven’t you moved on?” or “but you didn’t experience war.” These types of comments, whether intentional or not, can cause harm and potentially make it harder for your acquaintance to cope with their PTSD.
If your loved one suffers from symptoms of PTSD and you’re concerned about their mental health and well-being, get in touch with NeuroHealth in Arlington Heights. NeuroHealth specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional health disorders and illnesses, including PTSD. NeuroHealth provides services to patients from diverse backgrounds to get them on the road to emotional, psychological, and neurological healing.
Educate Yourself And Others
People who struggle with PTSD often do so in isolation, finding it hard to reach out. In fact, they might not even realize that they are struggling with PTSD until the symptoms become nearly unbearable. In addition to educating yourself on the symptoms and treatment, it is important to seek out safe people to connect with who can support you in your recovery journey. By learning about the condition, you can have the words to more clearly explain to others what is happening for you and ask for what you need.
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.
How To Support Someone With Ptsd
Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing experience that may have been life-threatening and overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope. Post-traumatic stress disorder is when the impact of that traumatic experience is still affecting the person’s life months and even years later.
People returning from war are potentially at higher risk of PTSD, given what they have been through. But anyone who has experienced extreme situations – through abuse, violence, abandonment, illness – could potentially suffer from symptoms of PTSD. It’s not clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t, but that can depend on a number of factors such as how strong they feel in themselves, how secure their upbringing was, and how the trauma was dealt with at the time.
The signs of PTSD don’t always occur straight away. They can emerge over time, and may not always seem connected to the traumatic event. If you’re worried about someone in your life – friend, partner, relative, colleague – who you suspect might be suffering from post-traumatic stress, here’s how to spot some of the symptoms.
How To Help Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
When a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder , it can be confusing to know exactly how you can be helpful and supportive. In some cases, the changes in your loved one can concern or frighten you. You may even feel some bitterness or resentment if they become distant or moody. But your support can make all the difference for someone living with PTSD. The right help is essential to helping them overcome the condition and move on with life.
Consider Attending A Therapy Session With Us To Better Understand What Were Going Through
“I think it’s extremely important to go with your loved one to a therapy session so the mental health professional can walk you through your loved one’s PTSD. My now-husband was with me during one of my worst flashbacks. Despite me having explained thoroughly my PTSD symptoms to him, along with what tends to trigger me, he argued with me rather than recognizing I was having a flashback. His resistance made the flashback and the anxiety that followed significantly worse and my symptoms lasted more than a week afterward.
Thankfully, he listened to me when my therapist suggested he come with me to my next session. The therapist was able to articulate what I couldn’t in a way my husband could understand. It was really helpful for both of us and since then my husband has been supportive, loving and understanding whenever I’ve felt symptoms.” ? Pitman
Tip No 7: Try Not To Judge
How each person experiences any event, especially a traumatic event, is unique to that individual. How each person copes is also unique. Statements like “Can’t you just get over it?” or “You’re lucky it wasn’t worse” don’t help and can make your family member or friend feel misunderstood or guilty about their feelings. It is more helpful to validate and empathize with their perspective and experience.
Types Of Treatment For Ptsd
The sooner a person dealing with PTSD seeks help and treatment the better. Symptoms can get worse over time if they are not addressed. Finding a therapist to help process a person’s trauma and relieve symptoms is essential for someone with PTSD. There are several types of PTSD treatment that can be effective.
At Lasting Recovery, we provide both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy in peer group sessions for individuals struggling with PTSD. These two therapeutic approaches help individuals learn how to manage distressing emotions, traumatic memories, and negative behavior patterns.
Another therapeutic process we provide at Lasting Recovery is EMDR or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Combining eye movements and other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation , works to reboot the brain’s information processing system, which can often be disrupted by traumatic stress.
Medication is another way to help someone handle PTSD. Prescriptions can help address feelings of depression and anxiety, but medication cannot treat the root causes of PTSD. Our board-certified medical director works individually with each Lasting Recovery client to ensure they are receiving the appropriate mental health treatment for both their symptoms and their long-term needs.
Lasting Recovery is here to help you or your family member manage their PTSD. Contact our trained staff today to learn about our treatment program and the many ways we can assist you.
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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 it’s 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 you’re 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 wasn’t because I don’t 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 didn’t 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.
Talking To Your Loved One About Ptsd Triggers
Ask your loved one about things they’ve done in the past to respond to a trigger that seemed to help . Then come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond in future.
Decide with your loved one how you should respond when they have a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack. Having a plan in place will make the situation less scary for both of you. You’ll also be in a much better position to help your loved one calm down.
How to help someone having a flashback or panic attack
During a flashback, people often feel a sense of disassociation, as if they’re detached from their own body. Anything you can do to “ground” them will help.
- Tell your loved one they’re having a flashback and that even though it feels real, the event is not actually happening again.
- Help remind them of their surroundings .
- Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths .
- Avoid sudden movements or anything that might startle them.
- Ask before you touch them. Touching or putting your arms around the person might make them feel trapped, which can lead to greater agitation and even violence.
How To Treat Ptsd
If self-coping doesn’t work for your loved one, you’ll 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.
Spend Time With People
It is common for people with PTSD to shy away from people, withdraw, and retreat.?? Fears, anxiety, , frustration, confusion, and the feeling of being overwhelmed are just some of the reasons why it might feel better to stay isolated than be around people.
Spending time with supportive friends and family can make a significant difference in your mood and outlook.
Keep in mind that if you are sharing space with any family or friends, it is likely they already notice you struggling. Many times people don’t know how to help or are afraid to say something for fear of causing more emotional pain. It can be helpful for all parties—both you and your loved ones—to have time to spend together. Some ways to spend time with others can include things like:
- Going for a walk
- Talk on the phone
If you don’t feel ready to talk yet, you can also sit quietly in the same room to read a book or a newspaper. Simply sharing the same space quietly can feel comforting.
Please Dont Tell Us To Just Get Over It
“I think it’s great if loved ones can to do their best to find that balance between allowing someone with PTSD to move through their symptoms, while also holding their hand to help them pick themselves back up. I can appreciate that it’s difficult to see someone you love suffer, but telling that person to ‘get over it’ or shaming them for what they’re experiencing only makes the process harder for the person experiencing symptoms. Meeting them where they are, and saying things like, ‘I’ve got you,’ ‘Let me help you breathe,’ or whatever resonates best for your loved one helps make those most challenging moments easier.” ? Susannah Pitman
Ways To Support Someone With Ptsd From People Who Have It
Unless you live with post-traumatic stress disorder, it can be hard to understand why an event from the past can still affect someone now. You may wonder why they just can’t “forget about it,” or get confused when seemingly low-stress situations evoke a strong reaction.
But for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, their brain actually changes. They don’t need to be told to forget about their trauma — what they need is support and understanding. To find out what else people with PTSD need from their loved ones, we asked people in our community who have PTSD what their family members or friends can do to support them.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Don’t assume because I have PTSD I’m mentally weak. I’m actually strong. I have survived.” — Riley Lee
2. “Just because I haven’t been to war, doesn’t mean I can’t still have PTSD. Keep that in mind.” — Melinda Michelle Tegarden
3. “Respect my space when I decline to do something with you I think will trigger me.” — Ashley Laverdiere
4. “Understand that boundaries are important to me.” — Ashley Brown
5. “Help me make new memories. Focus on the present and finding joy, while being understanding of your symptoms of PTSD.” — Chrissy Borzon Thompson
6. “Help me ground. Speak softly. If I ask, don’t touch me. I’m trying to get control of it, but PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal trauma.” — Nita Daniel
7. “Understand this type of thing doesn’t find a solution overnight.” — Aris Corvin