How to Support a Loved One With PTSD
Our brains are wired to alarm us about the presence and threat of danger, so having physical and psychological responses to trauma is very normal. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 30 American adults suffer from the symptoms of PTSD each year, with the risk being much higher for veterans.
After a traumatic incident, particularly an incident involving a threat of physical harm, it’s common for people to develop symptoms of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD:
- Intense, distressing memories of the event
- Increased or excessive anxiety
- Problems with sleep
- Anger and irritability
- Depression symptoms
- Social isolation
If you have a loved one who is affected by the symptoms of PTSD, you can support them through the healing process with these 3 tips:
- Learn all that you can about PTSD. The more you learn about the symptoms and treatment options for PTSD, the better you’ll be able to appreciate what he or she is going through, as well as to keep things in perspective. As part of this learning and support process, you may want to offer to accompany your loved one to their psychiatrist, therapist or VA/clinic visits.
- Be patient and try not to pressure your loved ones into talking. Many people with PTSD find talking about the event(s) nearly impossible. For some, talking before they’re ready can make things worse! Rather than pressing your loved one to share, it’s wise to just let him/her know you’re willing to listen—if and when they’re ready.Above all, be patient. Healing takes time, even if your loved one is getting therapy and is highly motivated to feel better. Just stay positive and provide support; let your friend or family member open up when he/she feels comfortable doing so.
- Take time for fun and connect with a supportive community. Having fun and laughing is one of the best ways to lower stress and release feel-good neurotransmitters. For added benefit, have fun while exercising! Take a walk, ride bikes, go on a hike, dance or do yoga together.If your loved one is prone to isolation, you may suggest that they stay in touch with family and close friends—we are much better together. Isolating oneself while healing from PTSD is like trying to dig out information from a book in a pitch black room while having a strong community means that support is but a phone call, email or visit away.