Lets Do Something Fun
When youre having a hard time adjusting to everyday life, fun is the last thing on your mind. Even if you try to do something to take your mind off the problems you face, theres always that profound sense of imminent threat thats keeping you from enjoying a fun activity.
Instead of suggesting something fun, try to create a safe space where they can experience a sense of comfort and calm.
What Can I Do To Help Myself
It is important to know that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment. Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk with your health care provider about treatment options, and follow your treatment plan.
- Engage in exercise, mindfulness, or other activities that help reduce stress.
- Try to maintain routines for meals, exercise, and sleep.
- Set realistic goals and do what you can as you are able.
- Spend time with trusted friends or relatives, and tell them about things that may trigger symptoms.
- Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Avoid use of alcohol or drugs.
Tell Them To Get Over It
One of the very worst things you can say to anyone suffering from PTSD is get over it. If PTSD patients could do this, they most certainly would no one wants to have to go through the pain of PTSD if they dont have to.
Think of it this way if someone had a broken leg, you wouldnt tell them you just get over it. You wouldnt tell them to forget the pain and keep walking. Its the same with PTSD or any mental health illness. It cannot be forgotten it has to be healed, and sometimes that takes a long time or even a lifetime.
Give An Example Of A Worse Situation
If someone is opening up to you about their PTSD and lets you know what happened to cause them to suffer from it, you shouldnt tell them a story or anecdote about someone else who in your view had it worse.
Although you would have meant it in a kind way, as a way of explaining that it could have been worse, this is not the case. For the sufferer, nothing could have been worse. There are no levels of pain or trauma some people react one way and others respond in other ways, but hearing a story of someone elses pain is never going to make their pain any less.
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Focus On The Positive
We know that humans possess a diverse spectrum of emotions, some being pleasant, others less so. But each emotional experience has a purpose and a valuable message that we need to hear.
If we choose to focus on positive vibes only , all we are doing is running away from ourselves. Unpleasant emotions are part of who we are just as much as pleasant ones are.
Things You Shouldnt Do To A Person With Ptsd
If you dont have PTSD then you wont quite be able to grasp what its like when you do. Its like having nightmares every night and every day for your whole life. Its being scared on a daily basis. Its never being able to forget something that happened to you, or even to someone else, and having to relive it through memories, dreams, flashbacks, and all kinds of triggers that you might not even realize are coming.
Because only PTSD sufferers can really know how it feels and what its like, and because they are the only ones who can really appreciate how much it can affect daily life, for friends and family or even simple acquaintances and colleagues, it can be hard to understand. This can lead to instances when people say or do something that causes more harm than good, even if the best of intentions were behind it.
If you know someone with PTSD and youre worried that you might cause them pain by saying something wrong, read on here are some of the things you shouldnt do when someone has post traumatic stress disorder.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Post
Post-traumatic stress is a complex condition, and one that is often misunderstood. In many cases people dont know what to say to a person suffering the effects of PTS. Here are a few things to avoid saying to someone suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress:
Theres no just get over itBecause post-traumatic stress is an invisible wound, it can often be misunderstood as something that is imagined or exaggerated. This is far from the case. Just because you cant see it, doesnt mean it isnt there. Taking a stance of just get over it, or its not that bad can be very damaging when engaging someone suffering the effects of PTS. A better approach would be to show sympathy and understanding. Phrases like Ive got you, Im here for you, and I hear you are better ways to show support.
Its about listening, not taking action. One of the most challenging aspects of suffering from post-traumatic stress is feeling as though youre the only one going through it, and that no one understands you. Sometimes, a listening ear can have a more significant impact.
Its all in their headAgain, because PTS cant been outwardly seen like any physical wound, the effects of it are easy to dismiss. But you wouldnt say maybe its just in your head to a person whos suffered a severe and significant leg wound. The lack of physical visibility of PTS makes it easy to mischaracterize as an overreaction, but there are in fact physical symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Say Only Military Veterans Have Ptsd
There is a common misconception in the world that it is only those who have served in a combat zone and seen active duty in the military who suffer from PTSD. Although many veterans do have PTSD and do suffer daily, the condition is not limited only to these service members. PTSD can occur in anyone who has been through a traumatic event. A mental illness such as PTSD does not care whether you have been in a combat situation or whether you were in a car crash or had an assault carried out on you or anything else.
Therefore, if you find that someone you know has PTSD dont belittle their condition and how they feel just because they werent in the military. Anyone can have the condition.
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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.
Why Are You So Uptight
Feeling edgy or jittery is not a choice for people with PTSD. Even with effective treatment, some people with PTSD still have symptoms, and the symptoms can erupt unexpectedly. If youre thrown off by the way a person with PTSD reacts to you being in their space or to something you said, give them the benefit of the doubt. Cut them some slack, give them space, and dont challenge them on it, says Nitschke. Instead, he recommends, simply say, Im sorry. I didn’t mean anything.
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Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not
Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSDmany factors play a part. Some of these factors are present before the trauma others become important during and after a traumatic event.
Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing of PTSD include:
- Exposure to dangerous events or traumas
- Getting hurt or seeing people hurt or killed
- Childhood trauma
- Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
- Having little or no social support after the event
- Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
- Having a personal history or family history of mental illness or substance use
Resilience factors that may reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD include:
- Seeking out support from friends, family, or support groups
- Learning to feel okay with ones actions in response to a traumatic event
- Having a coping strategy for getting through and learning from a traumatic event
- Being prepared and able to respond to upsetting events as they occur, despite feeling fear
I Will Support You In Every Way That I Know How
This one is more about actions than words. Do enjoyable things with your loved one, and encourage them to try to do at least one enjoyable thing each day. You may need to help them come up with some ideas. Try asking them what activities they used to enjoy before the traumatic event, or making some suggestions. As long as you dont try to plan the activities for them, it could help.
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You Have To Face Your Fears
Facing your fears or, as experts call it, exposure therapy is one of the most effective strategies in dealing with PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Current evidence suggests that both intensive prolonged exposure and virtual-reality augmented exposure can help individuals overcome traumatic experiences.
But this process should only take place under the guidance and supervision of a licensed counselor or therapist. For people with PTSD, facing their fears can be a huge endeavor requiring patience and careful planning.
Tip : Support Treatment
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD therapy. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Dont bring it up when youre arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also, be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that your loved one is crazy. Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.
Emphasize the benefits. For example, therapy can help them become more independent and in control. Or it can help reduce the anxiety and avoidance that is keeping them from doing the things they want to do.
Focus on specific problems. If your loved one shuts down when you talk about PTSD or counseling, focus instead on how treatment can help with specific issues like anger management, anxiety, or concentration and memory problems.
Acknowledge the hassles and limitations of therapy. For example, you could say, I know that therapy isnt a quick or magical cure, and it may take a while to find the right therapist. But even if it helps a little, it will be worth it.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
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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.
Educate Yourself On Ptsd
This condition tends to be misunderstood, and theres often a stigma attached to it. If you have a friend who is struggling with PTSD, start by learning about it. Learn not only the symptoms but also learn about how it can make people feel and the emotional experience that can come with PTSD.
Learning about PTSD and gaining PTSD education can help you be more understanding and empathetic, and can also clear up misconceptions you might have.
When you learn more about PTSD, youll see that most peoples experiences arent like what you see in popular culture. The symptoms and the effects of PTSD can be more subtle and less overt, but no less difficult for the person experiencing them.
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Talking To Your Loved One About Ptsd Triggers
Ask your loved one about things theyve 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. Youll 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 theyre detached from their own body. Anything you can do to ground them will help.
- Tell your loved one theyre 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.
Helping Someone With Ptsd Tip : Provide Social Support
Its common for people with PTSD to withdraw from family and friends. They may feel ashamed, not want to burden others, or believe that other people wont understand what theyre going through. While its important to respect your loved ones boundaries, your comfort and support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.
Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isnt always easy. You cant force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.
Dont pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know youre willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they dont. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.
Do normal things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to seek out friends, pursue hobbies that bring them pleasure, and participate in rhythmic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, or rock climbing. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Ptsd
1. Youll Get Over It
When it comes to depression, anxiety, or even burnout, telling someone to get over it is not the right thing to do. It can make them feel like they are not strong enough to cope with their disorder.
The same applies to someone with PTSD. Any trauma survivor deals with a pain that can seem unresolvable and when someone tells them to get over it, they can feel like they are the problem and they dont have what it takes to cope with their trauma. Avoid this statement at all costs.
2. Its Just a Shock, Thats All
Trauma can be shocking, yes but it can continue to shock the person-years after the initial experience. PTSD can be like the ripple effect and can keep affecting a person.
If someone is caught in a trigger, their mind will automatically react to the trauma which can be shocking and can make them avoid specific situations at all costs. PTSD is not just about being too shocked, keep this in mind and avoid saying this to someone with PTSD.
3. You Werent In Combat
Another thing you need to understand is that not only veterans and people whove been in combat experience trauma and PTSD. PTSD is a disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of their trauma and experience.
There is no greater trauma than PTSD and saying this statement is only disregarding your loved ones trauma which is not the right thing to do.
4. You Need To Let It Go
5. Others Experiences Are Worse
6. Your Experiences Are Irrational
8. It Couldve Been Worse
Encourage Them To Seek Treatment
Its beyond your control to make someone seek treatment. If they are ready or are considering treatment, you can encourage them along the way, however.
Research some of the treatment options available for PTSD. Look for treatment providers and programs that specialize in PTSD. Explore the benefits of treatment and, when your friend is ready, share what you come up with.
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Leave The Past Behind
Unfortunately, its not that easy for the human mind to leave the past behind, especially when the past holds something that has shaken the very core of your personality. When something traumatic happens, the brain registers the event to prevent it from happening again. Thats why some memories will stick and remain with us forever.
In short, the past isnt something that we should forget or put behind, but understand, accept and integrate into our experience.