Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition following a traumatic experience. PTSD is a complex condition to manage for both the person with the issue and their loved ones. Learning how to help someone with PTSD is an integral part of supporting someone you care about. You are not there to solve their issue or relieve their symptoms altogether. But you can help with PTSD by being a reliable source of support. The first thing to do is educate yourself on what your loved one is going through. This includes understanding common symptoms and behaviors to look for that indicate someone is struggling.
How to Help Someone With PTSD
The first step in providing help with PTSD to your loved one is to educate yourself. For starters, being aware of the symptoms you can expect them to display is key. Common PTSD symptoms include:
- Upsetting memories or flashbacks to the traumatic event
- Environmental cues that cause distress by reminding them of their trauma
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Self-destructive behavior
Negative thoughts, moods, and emotions are also common for people with PTSD. One thing to watch out for regarding the potential for self-destructive behavior is self-medication. Sometimes, people with untreated mental health conditions turn to substances as a way to cope with their symptoms. While understandable, this form of coping does not help PTSD and will worsen the situation. That is part of what makes it so vital that you connect your loved one to professional help if they are struggling with PTSD.
Take Care of Yourself in Order to Help With PTSD
It may sound counterintuitive, but in order to provide your loved one with the best support possible, you need to remember to take care of yourself. It is easy to become overwhelmed when supporting someone with PTSD. But you do not need to sacrifice your well-being. The more you sacrifice your own health, the less able you will be to offer quality support to your loved one long-term.
Caregiver burden has been a topic of much research. Studies have specifically looked at how veterans’ PTSD symptoms influence caregiver burden. What they have found is that when symptoms increase, spouses’ distress and caregiver burden increase in tandem. This leaves spouses at risk of developing their own mental health conditions.
So what can you do for yourself? Beyond the education piece, implement healthy practices that contribute to your physical health. Eat balanced meals, get regular exercise, and safeguard a quality amount of sleep every night. Avoid alcohol and other substances. Any investment in your physical health will earn high returns in your mental health and ability to support a loved one.
The other thing to consider is joining a support group. Numerous online and in-person support groups exist specifically for the loved ones of those with PTSD. Some are even specific to certain populations, like wives of veterans.
Get Your Loved One Help With PTSD at Oceanfront Recovery
Lastly, one of the best ways to help your loved one and yourself is to nudge them to get professional treatment. Treatment for PTSD usually includes some combination of therapy, medication, and support groups. Multiple behavioral therapies are designed with trauma in mind, making them great for application in response to PTSD.
There is no shame in accessing therapy or another form of treatment for PTSD. In fact, treatment can produce massive symptom relief and deliver improved quality of life for your loved one. That in turn benefits you. It’s a clear win-win.