When someone you care about is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it can be life-changing, for both of you. The changes in your loved one’s personality can be scary, overwhelming or even frightening. It’s crucial for you to understand, despite these emotions, you are not helpless, and that your support can make a tremendous difference to your partner, friend, or family member’s recovery. As difficult as it may be, with your help, your loved one can overcome PTSD and move on with their life.
PTSD can take a heavy toll on relationships and friendships. It can be hard to understand the sufferer’s behavior. They may be less affectionate and far more volatile. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time or even living with a stranger.
It’s very hard not to take the symptoms of this disorder personally, yet it’s vital to understand that someone with PTSD will not always have complete control over their behavior and actions. Your loved one’s psyche is in a state of constant rigidity, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe.
It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from friends and family. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, your support can help them to overcome feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despair.
Knowing how to demonstrate best your love and support for someone with PTSD isn’t always easy. You can’t force a recovery, no matter how much you would want to, but by merely being there and spending time together, you can play a significant role in their healing pathway.
Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be challenging for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. It can even make things worse. Allow your loved one to take the lead, rather than attempting to push them into a course of action. PTSD is different for everyone, but most people will know what makes them feel calm and safe.
Learn everything you can about PTSD. Knowledge is power and more you understand the symptoms and the treatment options available, the better you’ll be to help.
There are many avenues of support, including Emotional Support Animals. Although there are strict emotional support animal laws, your loved one may qualify for an ESA; this is dependant on a diagnosis from a professional mental health practitioner. Speak to your doctor for assistance.
Listen without prejudice. While you shouldn’t push anyone with PTSD to talk about how they feel, when and if they do choose to open up try to listen without judgment. Make it clear that you’re engaged and that you care, but don’t try to give advice.
Explore other avenues for anger. People who have PTSD exist in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means they’re always exhausted and physically strung out—increasing the likelihood that they’ll overreact to day-to-day stressors. Anger is a normal emotion, but when this spirals out of control, it can have severe consequences on an individual’s relationships, health, and state of mind. There are ways of getting anger under control by exploring the deep-seated issues and finding more constructive ways to express this emotion.
Through patient understanding and looking after yourself as well as your loved one, PTSD is not insurmountable and can be overcome.