People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often feel so many strong and negative emotions that they have difficulty expressing themselves and communicating their needs. That is why, if you have a loved one with PTSD, it is especially important for you to know how to react to the condition’s symptoms. With a little insight and a lot of empathy, you can help move along the healing process. Here are some basic tips:
Research the symptoms and causes of PTSD, including its warning signs, psychological responses to traumatic events, and how triggering events work. Understanding the medical facts of PTSD lets you support your loved one through all stages of treatment.
Do not expect a “return to normal”:
It is always tempting to hope that things can go back to how they used to be; but traumatic events imprint onto the psyche in a way that cannot be undone. Knowing how to adapt alongside your PTSD loved one as the healing process continues is much more important.
PTSD can steal your loved one’s sense-of-self:
People with PTSD view the world differently than they did before their trauma. Their minds may perceive dangers lurking around every corner, no matter how unlikely or illogical these dangers are. The anxiety and fear of this viewpoint can significantly change your loved one’s personality. Try to gently offer the possibility of a positive identity for your loved one, an identity apart from trauma.
No one can just “get over” PTSD:
People often think that unpleasant memories fade as time passes, but with PTSD, traumatic memories can persist much longer. It is unhelpful to rush a recovery from PTSD, and the way to live a happy life after trauma often involves accepting the event more than “getting over it.”
Your presence matters a lot:
PTSD can make someone defensive; sometimes when you try to relate or help, your loved one might lash out at you in frustration. But you need to remember that PTSD often imparts a terrible feeling of isolation. You being there still matters a lot, even if your loved one has trouble showing their gratitude.
If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, take a look at one of our many clinical trials.