Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have an enormous impact not only on the life of the person who is suffering from it but also on the lives of friends and family.
Because your loved one with PTSD is stuck in a state of high alert, reliving a traumatic experience over and over, their reactions to everything around them will not be normal. They will feel vulnerable and unsafe, which can lead to anger, depression, and much more.
PTSD can cause much damage to relationships and family life if you are not aware of how to help your loved ones through this difficult condition. At Texas Mind Science, with offices in Richardson and Flower Mound, Texas, we are committed to improving the lives of our patients who suffer from PTSD. As we treat them, here are a few ways that you can support them as well.
Provide Social Support
People who have PTSD often want to withdraw from family and friends and just be alone. They may feel ashamed and not want to burden others with their problems, but face-to-face support is one of the most important elements in recovering from PTSD.
You shouldn’t pressure them into talking, but when they are ready to speak, be a good listener. Don’t have expectations or offer judgments or advice — just listen attentively. They may want to rehash the same events over and over, and that’s fine. Don’t rush them, and respect their feelings and thoughts.
You can also encourage them to pursue normal activities, such as hobbies they enjoy. Don’t tell them what to do, but take your cues from them. Help them build predictable structures and routines to provide stability and security.
Triggers are people, situations, or events that remind your loved one of the trauma they experienced. Some are obvious, such as a backfire that sounds like a gunshot. Others can be more difficult to identify, such as a certain song, specific dates, particular sounds or smells, media coverage of events, and much more.
Ask them how they have responded to triggers in the past, and come up with a plan together for what to do when they experience these triggers in the future. You can avoid the triggers as much as possible, but having this plan will help you both feel better in case an unexpected triggering event occurs.
Your love and support are vital, but your loved one may also need professional treatment, such as therapy, support groups, or TMS therapy. Wait for the right time to suggest these options (not in the middle of a crisis, for example) and then offer to help them in whatever way they need — transportation, encouragement, etc.
There is much more to say on this topic but to get started with therapy or other treatment options, set up an appointment at Texas Mind Science by calling our offices or using our convenient online scheduler.
We would be honored to help you navigate this challenge in the life of your loved one.