What Help Can You Offer Someone with PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that occurs after a traumatic experience. For some, the effects are instant. You will notice the change in their behavior a few days after the traumatic incident. Others will only get symptoms of PTSD months and weeks after the experience. No formula fits all experiences. People who suffer from PTSD cannot always recognize the symptoms themselves. It takes a loved one or a doctor to point out the signs.
It’s not easy to help someone with PTSD. It’s a difficult journey for everyone, especially if you are trying to convince them to try an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR treatment and other means of therapy. People with PTSD rarely want to talk about their bad experiences. They want to forget them and walk away from them, which makes it harder still for their loved ones to get them out of their cocoons.
PTSD is often a result of harrowing experiences such as assault, war or combat, natural disasters, and accidents that resulted in the death of a loved one. People whose lives are threatened will feel intense fear, terror, and helplessness. Reactions such as shock, rage, anxiety, and guilt will often creep in the lives of the people who experienced a traumatic incident.
Some people may just walk away fine without these feelings. Others are burdened by these feelings even after years have passed. Traumatic experiences are so intense that families of the victims and first responders often suffer from PTSD, too.
Symptoms of PTSD
People with PTSD act differently. Remember that it is nothing personal. They aren’t against you. Their reaction to people and the world around them was born out of fear, shock, and guilt. These people are easily startled, have difficulty sleeping, and are irritable. Those with severe PTSD symptoms are suicidal, depressed, and disconnected. PTSD is such a debilitating mental health problem that its victims couldn’t maintain relationships or function in a normal work setting.
Helping Someone with PTSD
If you want to help a loved one with PTSD, learn as much as you can about it. There’s often a stigma attached to people with PTSD. No, they aren’t crazy people. This isn’t something that they can just snap out of. PTSD is serious, but it can also be subtle. The symptoms don’t always manifest itself the same way. A loved one could be suffering from PTSD, and you’re still unaware of it right now.
One way of helping a loved one is to listen and show support. Most people with PTSD don’t want to talk about their experiences. That’s okay. Don’t push them to talk about the trauma. Instead, offer to listen to whatever it is that they want to talk about. Make them feel comfortable. Don’t try to pressure them into sharing what they’ve experienced in the past.
Lastly, be dependable. Those with PTSD feel this way often because someone has broken their trust. They distrust the world and the people in it. Teach them that you can be depended on. Show them that you are reliable. Things like arriving on time during a meetup will go a long way toward improving their trust again.
Once you gain their trust by listening and showing emotional support, it’ll be easier for them to open up to you. It may take weeks or even months, but consistency is the key here. Further on, you may even talk them into trying to seek professional help and treatment.