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How To Help A Loved One Struggling With PTSD

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day highlights the importance of reaching out to our veterans who may be suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You may know someone who has suffered some sort of trauma in their lives who may be struggling with PTSD. PTSD can take a heavy toll on friends and family members and cause difficulties in relationships. Sometimes, it is difficult to recognize when someone has PTSD. A person with PTSD may get angry easily or avoid doing things that he or she used to enjoy doing. They may be less affectionate, more volatile, angry, irritable, depressed, apathetic, mistrusting, and negative. A person with PTSD cannot shut off these symptoms like a light switch. You may feel like you are walking on eggshells and frightened and frustrated by the changes you see your loved one experiencing. However, you can take steps to help someone with PTSD. The steps below will help you to take an active role in your loved one’s recovery.

Step 1: Learn as much as you can about PTSD

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options for PTSD so you can understand what your loved one is going through. Learning about PTSD will help you to know how to handle your loved one’s specific PTSD symptoms and respond with compassion.

Step 2: Be there to support your loved one

Consider going to doctor’s appointments with your loved one if they are comfortable with your presence. Let your loved one know how interested you are in helping them and your desire to be present in their recovery. Don’t forget to take good care of yourself. Take good care of your emotional and physical health so you are better able to assist your loved one with their ongoing recovery, which can oftentimes be stressful.

Step 3: Don’t pressure your loved one to talk

Tell your loved one that you want to listen and that you understand if they don’t feel like talking. Sometimes, it is difficult for a person with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. Talking about it can sometimes even make things worse. Let them know that you are available to listen whenever they are ready to talk.

Step 4: Encourage contact with family and close friends

People with PTSD sometimes isolate themselves because they fear triggering their PTSD symptoms. Encourage your loved one to maintain a support system that can help them through difficult changes and stressful times. It is also important to increase your loved one’s feelings of safety. Create routines, be aware of what makes your loved one feel unsafe, and minimize stress at home. You can also encourage your loved one to join a support group or talk to a pastor, rabbi, or a spiritual leader they trust.

If you are a veteran, you can visit to talk to a peer support coach for free 24/7. Prevail Health Solutions is a trusted veteran mental health partner. Not a veteran? You can visit our website at also has helpful information about helping someone with PTSD.


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