Taking care of a loved one suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be an overwhelming and daunting task. It can take a heavy toll on the relationship, especially with more severe symptoms. Seeking treatment as soon as possible is a must. Still, there are some things you can do to show someone suffering from this terrible disorder that you understand and support them.
Understanding How it Works
PTSD is caused by traumatic events such as physical assaults, time spent in war zones, heavy accidents etc. which can impact a person’s daily life. The first step towards successful support is empathizing with them and trying to understand what they’re going through. Educating yourself and knowing more about different symptoms and triggers can help put things in perspective.
Know that PTSD is a Very Serious Illness
More than 8 million adults in a given year are experiencing PTSD symptoms. People don’t just get over it. Outbursts of rage are very common and can leave a person feeling vulnerable and unloved. Realizing that all this is part of the disease can make it much easier to understand those suffering from it.
Talk to Them
Being a sympathetic and good listener can mean a world to them. Even though emphasizing their strengths is important, pushing too much can have a negative effect. Let them lead the conversation at their own pace. It’s important for sufferers to have a person they can confide in. Listen without any trace of judgment.
Let the person be upset and angry about what has happened, as they have the right to be. Questioning them or diffusing the situation can only worsen their state. Don’t pressure them into talking but be clear that you’re there for them. Keep in mind that love and talk isn’t always enough. At the end of the day, you’re not a professional, and those suffering from PTSD need one.
Learn Their Triggers
Every person experiences PTSD differently. Learning to anticipate their triggers can help avoid those situations and prepare you in case they happen. If the person is experiencing a flashback, try to encourage them to stay calm. Explain what’s happening and avoid any sudden movements. In these conditions, PTSD sufferers feel detached from reality, and it’s your job to try and “ground” them. Remind them where they are but avoid any physical contact as it can aggravate them more.
Care for Yourself
Your own mental health matters too. Many people experience guilt and feelings of helplessness, becoming stressed and traumatized themselves. Constant exposure to PTSD symptoms is extremely hard for everyone involved. Try to get enough sleep and exercise. You won’t be any good to the person you’re trying to help if you start developing PTSD symptoms yourself. Find a way to enjoy things in life. Have something to fall back on, such as friends, daily activities, and nights out.
Know your limits and try to keep a balance between all the aspects. It’s a difficult illness for everyone involved. Before anything, encourage the person to try and find treatment. Even though it might be tempting to do everything, set your own boundaries and know when not to go overboard. After all, your health is as equally important.