Is A Loved One Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Is A Loved One Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) may take a heavy toll on relationships. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to understand a loved one’s behavior who has been diagnosed with the condition. You just can’t understand why they are so volatile or lack affection. Because of these experiences, you may feel overwhelmed, worried, frustrated, angry, or even frightened.

When things start to look bleak in life, remember that the situation is not hopeless. Oftentimes, your support can make all the difference for your family member’s, friend’s, or partner’s recovery. Yes, with your help, your loved one has a fighting chance of overcoming PTSD and move on with their lives. Below are a few tips to help you get through these tough times.

Don’t Take PTSD Symptoms Personally

You should learn to avoid taking things to heart because individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may lack control over their behavior. Their nervous systems may be stuck in a state of constant alert, which makes them feel unsafe and vulnerable. That’s why they often display signs of mistrust, depression, irritability, and anger. They can’t simply turn off these negative feelings. So, the goal is to provide them with adequate support so that their nervous systems can become unstuck and allow them to move on from a traumatic event.

Lend an Ear to Your Loved One

While you should be all ears when they initiate a conversation with you, you should avoid forcing individuals with PTSD to talk or pour out their feelings in front of you. When it is time to listen, make sure that you listen without making any judgments and expectations.

Oftentimes, you don’t need to worry about giving advice as it is the act of listening attentively that’s helping. Speaking of which, avoid common communication pitfalls like giving ultimatums, telling them to stop giving into weakness, or blithely assure them that everything is going to be okay.

Because patients with PTSD tend to discuss the traumatic event repeatedly, you should resist the temptation to remind them to stop rehashing the past and move on. This is part of the healing process and if you stop them from doing this, they may not open up to you again.

Spend Time Together to Provide Social Support

To help a loved one with PTSD recover, it is a good idea to spend time together and demonstrate your love and support for him or her. When you do normal things with your loved one, the activities should not be related to PTSD or the traumatic experience. For example, you can go on regular brunch dates, take a dancing class together, pursue a common hobby, hang out with friends, and more. Remember to express your commitment to the relationship and healing process by letting your loved one know that you are here for the long haul. This way, they can feel more loved, supported, and trusted.

Understand and Manage PTSD Triggers

Triggers may refer to elements such as a situation, location, or person that set off PTSD symptoms, e.g., anniversaries, hospitals, funerals, or songs. You will need to be prepared to deal with a loved one who may experience a temporary “shut down.”

It is important to decide (with your loved one if possible) how to respond when they have a panic attack, flashback, or nightmare. Having a plan in place will make the situation less scary, as well as keep both of you safe from physical harm.

If your situation is becoming increasingly harder to control, feel free to reach out to Mind & Body Health Group, where we have experienced PTSD counselors ready to assist you.