Supporting Someone With Ptsd Or C
When a friend or family member has PTSD or C-PTSD, it affects you too.
The symptoms of PTSD can be very difficult to live with, and the changes in your loved one can be can be scary, upsetting and overwhelming.
You may worry that things wont ever go back to the way they were before. Youre desperate to help them and make them better. At the same time, you may feel angry about whats happening to your family, and hurt by your loved ones distance and new emotions. The symptoms of PTSD can even lead to job loss, substance abuse, alcohol misuse, and other problems that affect the whole family. Its a stressful situation all around one that can leave you feeling helpless and confused.
Its hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but its important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behaviour. Your loved ones nervous system is stuck in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one cant simply choose to turn off.
As you go through this time with a loved one with PTSD or C-PTSD, some of the most important things to remember are:
Key Points: Helping A Friend With Ptsd
Knowing how to help someone with PTSD can feel overwhelming, but there are approaches you can take that may be helpful, including:
- Educating yourself on PTSD
- Suggesting online counseling apps like teletherapy
- Taking care of yourself
If you would like more information about PTSD as well as treatment options, contact The Recovery Village. A representative can answer your questions and recommend a treatment program that may meet your needs.
Talking About The Trauma Can Be Important
- Allow the person to talk about what happened, even if they become upset. Just be calm yourself and listen carefully getting upset too doesnt help.
- Dont insist on talking if the person doesnt want to. They may need time to be alone with their thoughts. Tell them you are there to listen whenever they feel ready.
- Reassure them you care and want to understand as much as possible about what happened to them. They may say you cant possibly understand what they went through and shut you out. If they take this approach, they risk becoming isolated from their support networks. Be patient and see what else you can do to help.
- Try to make sure there is someone else they can talk to if they dont want to talk to you about it.
- If there are some difficult decisions to be made, talk about the situation with the person and help them to identify the different options. However, dont make the decision for them. Also, if it is only a short time after the traumatic event, suggest that it might be a good idea to wait a little longer before making a decision.
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How Can I Help A Friend Or Relative Who Has Ptsd
If you know someone who may be experiencing PTSD, the most important thing you can do is to help that person get the right diagnosis and treatment. Some people may need help making an appointment with their health care provider others may benefit from having someone accompany them to their health care visits.
If a close friend or relative is diagnosed with PTSD, you can encourage them to follow their treatment plan. If their symptoms do not get better after 6 to 8 weeks, you can encourage them to talk to their health care provider. You also can:
- Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
- Learn about PTSD so you can understand what your friend is experiencing.
- Listen carefully. Pay attention to the persons feelings and the situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms.
Ptsd Can Be Treatedyes Theres Hope
If you are overwhelmed by symptoms or negative thoughts that you suspect are related to PTSD, you should contact your health care team to discuss the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis. You can also contact a local mental health facility, like McLean, to get the help you need. You dont have to struggle on your ownthere is a path to recovery.
If you recognize the symptoms in a friend or loved one, you should always reach out to them and offer support. Whether they accept your help or not, knowing that youve offered can be incredibly helpful to those who are affected by mental illness.
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Lets Talk About Something Else
Although being close to people whove experienced a tragedy may feel heavy at times, its vital to create a space where they can unburden their soul. As long as the wound is still fresh, trying to change the subject to something less tragic in hopes of lifting their mood will only result in disappointment.
Theres a good chance youll make them feel like a burden.
Youre Just A Bit Shocked Thats All
A traumatic event can send shockwaves for months after the initial impact. Its like throwing a rock into a pond. Even though the waves are not as loud as the initial splash, theyre still strong enough to disturb the surface of the water.
But the worst part is that if you find yourself in a triggering situation, your mind will reenact the trauma, which can be shocking enough to make you avoid specific contexts or experience intense anxiety if you have nowhere to run. Long story short, people with PTSD are not just a bit shocked.
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When Were Having A Bad Day Know That Its Not Your Fault
I wish they understood that when Im struggling it has nothing to do with them. Like, if Im going through something because of my PTSD, its because of my PTSD, not them. I never want friends or family to feel like its their fault when Im struggling with anxiety or from other symptoms of my PTSD. Kayla Stevenson
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Living With Someone Coping With Ptsd
Living with a person who is struggling with PTSD is a challenge, but you shouldnt feel alone when supporting the person you love. You should never take these symptoms personally because PTSD hijacks the nervous system and causes a constant state of hyper-awareness.
Consider the following strategies to help you cope with another persons PTSD. These include:
- Writing out your feelings and thoughts that you want to work through or discuss during therapy sessions
- Having a plan for setting boundaries, such as expressing discomfort with topics
- Writing down questions or goals for improvement that you have about PTSD, which could be coping with it and healing from it
Continue Your Daily Routine
Avoid letting your loved one hole up for too long. Try to help them stick to a routine similar to the one they followed before the trauma. Without being pushy or overbearing, please encourage them to spend time with friends and family and socialize in settings with no connection to the traumatic experience. Make sure they also pursue physical activity so their body can release those happiness-boosting endorphins.
Set Aside A Time To Tell Others
After you identify the individuals you are going to tell about your PTSD diagnosis, make sure you set aside a good time to do so. Allow yourself the time needed to share the diagnosis, nerves and all. Consider that the person you tell may react emotionally to the news, so make sure that you make the disclosure in a place and at a time that is not stressful for you.
Invite a friend over for tea. Take a family member out to lunch. You want to set up a situation where you have the person’s undivided attention.
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Ptsd Treatment And Therapy
Treatment for PTSD can relieve symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma youve experienced. A doctor or therapist will encourage you to recall and process the emotions you felt during the original event in order to reduce the powerful hold the memory has on your life.
During treatment, youll also explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma, work through feelings of guilt and mistrust, learn how to cope with intrusive memories, and address the problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships.
The types of treatment available for PTSD include:
Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to feelings and situations that remind you of the trauma, and replacing distorted and irrational thoughts about the experience with a more balanced picture.
Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what youre going through and help you work through relationship problems together as a family.
Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety, although they do not treat the causes of PTSD.
EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. EMDR therapy techniques work by unfreezing the brains information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.
Tips For Communicating With People With Tbi
- Some people with TBI may have trouble concentrating or organizing their thoughts. If you are in a public area with many distractions, consider moving to a quiet or private location, and try focusing on short-term goals.
- Be prepared to repeat what you say, orally or in writing. Some people with TBI may have short-term memory deficits.
- If you are not sure whether the person understands you, offer assistance completing forms or understanding written instructions and provide extra time for decision-making. Wait for the individual to accept the offer of assistance do not “over-assist” or be patronizing.
- Be patient, flexible and supportive. Take time to understand the individual, make sure the individual understands you and avoid interrupting the person.
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Look After Your Own Mental Health
It’s important to remember that your mental health matters too. Our pages on supporting someone else to seek help, how to cope when supporting someone else, managing stress and maintaining your wellbeing all have lots of information and tips on how to look after yourself.
Support options for you
A traumatic event can have a major impact not just on those who lived through it, but also on that person’s close family, friends and colleagues.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare – says professionals should consider the impact of traumatic events on relatives and think about how to provide appropriate care.
What Events Can Lead To The Development Of Ptsd
You dont have to experience a specific trauma to develop PTSD. Many people associate this disorder with military veterans. While PTSD is common in military populations, simply witnessing an event, like a car accident, can trigger PTSD symptoms.
In these cases, painful, traumatic memories can appear out of nowhere, creating intense physical and emotional reactions. During World War I, this was referred to as shell shock. When the horrors of war were too much for the brain to manage, the brain, or at least part of the brain, simply shut off.
Children and teens often experience PTSD as a result of traumas that impact them, such as school shootings, domestic violence, auto accidents, neglect, or abuse. 15-43% of adolescents will experience a traumatic event, with about a quarter of those individuals experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
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Learn About The Options For Treatment
With the right tools and awareness, you can be a remarkable source of support when caring for someone with complex PTSD, but it is still a disorder that calls for professional guidance and treatment. Long-term residential treatment programs are the best option for a recovery path that brings clients back to the life they really want to live. In these settings, experts are trained to establish a nurturing environment and be receptive to clients particular needs and triggers so they can ensure the best potentials for recovery success.
In a long-term treatment setting, clients can heal trauma as they are ready. Just as they build trust with you and the home recovery environment, they have sufficient time and space to build trusting relationships with therapist and clinicians who can offer invaluable guidance, support, and tools along the way. The extended time in the treatment setting allows the trauma to unfold gradually and progressivelyunlike in short-term settings where surface layers of trauma and triggers may be resolved temporarily, but the roots of past pain remain.
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Rape Or Sexual Trauma
The trauma of being raped or sexually assaulted can be shattering, leaving you feeling scared, ashamed, and alone, or plagued by nightmares, flashbacks, and other unpleasant memories. But no matter how bad you feel right now, its important to remember that you werent to blame for what happened, and you can regain your sense of safety, trust, and self-worth.
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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, its 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. didnt 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 wasnt 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 dont 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.
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Vet CentersThis program provides readjustment counseling, outreach, and referral services to veterans and their families in a relaxed, community-based setting. Vet Centers also provide counseling for military sexual trauma and bereavement counseling to parents, siblings, and spouses of service members who die in service. Many staff members are combat veterans themselves. Almost all combat veterans are eligible for Vet Center services.
RAINN The nations largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN started and currently runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims, and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
International Society for Traumatic Stress StudiesDedicated to sharing information about the effects of trauma and the discovery and dissemination of knowledge about policy, program, and service initiatives that seek to reduce traumatic stressors and their immediate and long-term consequences. Providing access to education and research, meetings and events, as well as tools for treating trauma and public resources.
NCTSN brings a singular and comprehensive focus to childhood trauma. A collaboration of frontline providers, researchers, and families committed to raising the standard of care while increasing access to services.
May 9, 2022
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Listen To Their Feelings
If you want to know how to support someone with PTSD, you need to be a good listener and acknowledge your loved ones feelings. Take a little time to explain that, although you cant know exactly how theyre feeling, you do understand that their feelings are real, and you care very deeply and are there to help.
However, its important to maintain a sense of reality as well. If you find that your friend constantly needs reassurance or they seem to feel like life is about to end with no justifiable reasoning, then you might need to be willing to do more than just listen to whats said and blindly agree. Doing so might reinforce unrealistic behaviors and beliefs, which would be damaging rather than helpful.
Encourage the person to share whatever theyre comfortable with telling you. Pay attention to what they tell you and validate their feelings. If they feel safe and comfortable then it will help their healing process.