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How to Support Someone with PTSD

How to Support Someone with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD, is a debilitating mental health illness that one may develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening or traumatic event. The condition can profoundly affect the patient’s life, making it difficult to maintain relationships, hold down a job, or function normally.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding PTSD, and it has been regarded as a sign of weakness in the past. But contrary to this assumption, PTSD is a diagnosable mental illness that can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, or social-economic background. 

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest itself in different ways, and the symptoms can vary in intensity over time. The symptoms can are grouped into four categories as follows:

Re-experiencing Symptoms

This can take the form of intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and vivid flashbacks, where the patient relives the traumatic event as if it’s happening all over again. This can lead to physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure, and panic attacks.

Avoidance Symptoms

Patients with PTSD often try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma, including people, places, conversations, activities, and thoughts. They may withdraw from friends and family, lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, and become emotionally detached.

Negative Changes in Mood and Thoughts

PTSD can cause a range of negative emotions, including fear, guilt, shame, and anger. They may also struggle with negative thinking, such as feeling that the world is dangerous or that they’re not good enough.

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

Patients with PTSD may startle easily, have problems concentrating, and constantly be on guard for danger. They may also experience irritability, outbursts of anger, and hypervigilance (a heightened state of awareness).

Supporting Someone with PTSD

It can be hard to watch a loved one struggle with PTSD, and you may end up feeling sad and helpless. However, there are a few things you can do to support their recovery and make them feel loved.

Educate yourself about PTSD

PTSD is a very complex condition, and understanding what a loved one is going through can be difficult. The more you learn about the condition, the better equipped you are to help other people.

Listen and Don’t Judge

Sometimes, all you can do is listen. Allow your loved ones to talk about their feelings and symptoms without judgment. The process can be challenging and emotionally exhausting, but it is part of recovery. Let them know you are always there when they need someone to lean on.

Be Patient

Recovering from PTSD is a gradual process and does not happen overnight. It is not something they can just “snap out of,” so you need to be patient and understanding as they work through their trauma.

Create a Safe and Supportive Environment

A safe and supportive environment is essential for someone with PTSD. This means creating an environment where they feel comfortable talking about their trauma and symptoms. It also means understanding there will be good days and bad days and trying not to get too discouraged if they have a setback.

Learn Their Triggers

Everyone with PTSD has different triggers, so it’s essential to learn what sets them off. This way, you can avoid or remove those triggers from their environment.

Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms

There are a variety of healthy coping mechanisms that can help someone with PTSD deal with their symptoms. They include things like exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling. Encouraging your loved one to use these coping mechanisms can help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help

PTSD can be extremely debilitating, and seeking professional help is key to recovery. Being supportive and encouraging them to seek professional help can go a long way in helping them get their life back. You can explore treatment options together and help them find a mental health treatment center where they feel comfortable.

Take Care of Yourself

Supporting someone with PTSD is a demanding and emotionally draining process that can impact your mental and emotional wellbeing. Taking care of yourself will help release any pent-up negative emotions and give you the emotional energy to support your loved one. If you’re finding it difficult to cope, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

The Bottom Line

Recovery from PTSD is possible, but it takes time and effort. With the right treatment and the love and support of family and friends, people with PTSD can overcome the symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

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