While you may not notice a stranger’s struggles against PTSD, when your loved one is experiencing flashbacks of a traumatic event, it can be devastating. Figuring out how to help someone with PTSD can feel like grasping at straws.
In this guide, we’ll explain the top ways you can help a loved one cope through PTSD.
1. Understand PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition characterized by recurring thoughts and anxiety about a past event. While many people live through hard events and are able to return to a normal life after some time, someone facing PTSD typically requires professional help for a full recovery.
Learning about PTSD and its symptoms can be useful in your efforts to learn how to help someone with PTSD.
When you understand the underlying root of PTSD and its manifestations, you’ll be better equipped to face hard times. You’ll also start to notice patterns in triggers and intercept them when possible.
2. Accept your role
Your relationship with your friend or family member will greatly change the impact you can have. For example, your role in learning how to help a child with PTSD will look different if you are an aunt or a parent. The closer proximity you have to a person struggling with PTSD, the more of a change you can make.
You can also be a critical support for the family members who are most involved. Be a listening ear to the mom whose son struggles with PTSD or drop off dinner once a week to their home. The support you offer will largely depend on your role, but no matter your relationship, your availability will always be appreciated.
3. Work on alleviating symptoms
Your family member or friend will focus on processing and overcoming the traumatic event while in therapy. This will slowly reduce the symptoms present in his or her life. However, you can also work to prevent some triggers from popping up.
Eventually, your loved one will need to face and cope with triggers, but early on they can disrupt treatment. You can minimize triggers by reducing family stressors, providing financial assistance and offering to drive your loved one to treatment.
Each person’s triggers will be unique, so pay attention to what stirs trauma in your family member’s life. If she was the victim of assault, censor shows and movies for violent content. If he was in combat, watch for loud noises or sudden changes.
You can also learn to help someone with PTSD improve the quality of their sleep. Do a pre-sleep meditation with your loved one, or try a white noise machine to eliminate sounds that could contribute to sleep anxiety.
4. Watch out for signs of depression or suicidality
When PTSD goes unchecked, a person may develop feelings of depression and suicidality. Memories of trauma can drive a person to extreme actions, and symptoms may escalate.
It’s important to look out for the following symptoms and ensure that they’re addressed in treatment.
- Risk-taking or self-destructive behaviors;
- Irritability, anger or aggression;
- Isolating one’s self or lack of close relationships;
- Negative thoughts;
- Feeling emotionally distant.
These and other factors can indicate a need for more intense intervention.
You’re not alone
Tired of feeling helpless about your loved one’s struggles with PTSD? You’re not alone. Helping a family member or friend manage triggers to PTSD is something many people deal with daily. You’re not alone in the suffering and you’re not alone in needing help.
Reaching out to professional services for PTSD is a step you can take today. You and your loved one deserve peace of mind, and Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare can help. Together, therapy and medication can help you to return to normal life. Call (678) 274-4936 today, or schedule your appointment to get started.