How to Help a Loved One with PTSD

A common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a feeling of loneliness and isolation. However, those living with PTSD aren’t alone. Almost 8 million people in the United States will develop this disorder in their lifetime. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops following a frightening, stressful, or traumatic event. Symptoms of fear, helplessness, stress, and moodiness can be so intense that an individual’s quality of life may suffer due to a diagnosis of PTSD. Additionally, relationships with others, especially close loved ones, may deteriorate. Though it may be difficult to understand just what someone living with PTSD is going through, it is important to understand how to properly care for a loved one so that they have a strong support system.

Tip #1: Provide Support

An individual living with PTSD may become withdrawn from those closest to them but providing emotional and social support may help ease the symptoms of the disorder. To provide proper support, it is critical to understand and respect boundaries. For example, allow your loved one to talk freely about their trauma on their own terms; bringing up painful subjects may only worsen symptoms. Encouraging a loved one to engage in social activities they previously enjoyed may be beneficial as well, but it is important to not force them to heal on anyone else’s terms but their own. Everyone living with PTSD deals with their diagnosis differently, so patience and understanding is key.

Tip #2: Listen

Though a simple concept, active and compassionate listening may be harder than it seems. If someone chooses to open up to you about their experience, listen to what they have to say without judgment or expectation. Unsolicited advice and denial of one’s experience can be detrimental. Again, every diagnosis is different; a person living with PTSD may avoid talking about their trauma, or they may repeat their story to you. No matter what, always listen to what they have to say.

Tip #3: Educate Yourself

To better care for someone living with PTSD, immerse yourself with information about the disorder. People with PTSD may exhibit volatile behavior that is confusing, so understanding common symptoms can make managing them easier. Individuals living with PTSD experience triggers, or something that reminds them of the traumatic event. Nearly everything can be a trigger – a person, place, sound, or date. Triggers can often lead to nightmares or panic attacks that can occur strongly and unexpectedly, so a trusted love one should understand how to help their loved one with PTSD get through these unpleasant experiences. 

PTSD is a common mental health disorder that no one should have to face alone. If a loved one in your life is living with PTSD, seek out resources to learn more about how to properly care for them. If you are living with PTSD, consider a clinical trial with Preferred Research Partners in Little Rock, Arkansas. You may be eligible for treatment at no cost.