People who experience extremely traumatic events often have a difficult time putting their thoughts and feelings into words. Powerful emotions ranging from fear and anger to shame, guilt, or grief can make talking about the things that they experienced overwhelming.
It is important for friends and family members of anyone suffering from PTSD to learn how to understand what the person is going through.
Once you have greater insight into what it is like to deal with PTSD, you can respond more appropriately to your loved one as they work through their recovery. Being able to see things from their perspective can give you greater compassion for what they are going through and can make it easier for you to provide them with the support that they need. Ultimately, the process requires kindness, understanding, and a great deal of patience.
- Arm yourself with knowledge. The more you know about PTSD, the better position you will be in to help. Begin by learning how PTSD events are triggered and how the brain reacts to severe trauma. From there, familiarize yourself with the common symptoms and signs of PTSD as well as some of the treatment protocols that are currently available. According to Sage Recovery & Wellness Center informing yourself puts you in a far better position to provide your loved one with the support that they need to heal.
- Understand that traumatic events often result in permanent changes. It is easy to think that everything can go back to normal after a traumatic event. In fact, however, this is rarely the case. When someone experiences major trauma, it leaves a permanent imprint on their psyche. It is important to acknowledge the way that trauma changes people and to accept those changes moving forward.
- PTSD changes the way that people see the world. When someone has PTSD, it can color their entire worldview. In their mind, the world can seem extremely threatening, with danger lurking around every corner. One way to help is by reminding people with PTSD that there are positive ways to engage with the world and with themselves.
- PTSD can cause people to hide their true selves. Oftentimes, a different version of a person’s personality takes over, masking their feelings and hiding their true identity. It is important to remember that the person’s true self is still there. It just may be buried or hidden away at the moment.
- PTSD can affect the way that people behave. This syndrome causes victims to adopt a state of mind that focuses solely on survival. The emotions that they are feeling can be extremely frightening, leaving them overwhelmed. They may act out in anger or break down in tears unexpectedly. Although these behaviors can be hard to deal with for friends and family members, understand that these responses are not something that your loved one can control.
- Decisions and actions are often controlled by fear rather than by logic. When the psyche is overwhelmed by fear, guilt, or anger, it is often difficult to make logic-based decisions or to listen to advice from other people. It is important to continue reaching out to your loved one, even if it feels like you are not getting through to them. They may recall your words at a later date, using them to guide them toward smarter decisions.
- PTSD is not something that people can just get over. There is a common misconception that time heals all wounds – both mental and physical. With PTSD, however, that is not the case. The condition can continue to affect people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors long after the event has passed. It is important to understand that there is no way to rush the healing process. Trying to push someone to make faster progress usually has the opposite effect, causing them to have setbacks in their recovery. Focus on being as patient as possible, understanding that the healing process doesn’t occur overnight.
- Most people with PTSD are not in denial. If you ask someone if they are okay and they say that nothing is wrong, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t think that there is a problem. Usually, they realize that PTSD is keeping them from living a full and happy life. At the same time, however, they may be focusing all of their energy on simply existing, with little left over to focus on the healing process. Every day is a challenge when you are dealing with such a debilitating condition. The best thing that you can do for someone who is trying to heal is to provide them with a supportive environment, realizing that they are doing whatever they can at the moment to get better, even if it doesn’t seem like it from an outside perspective.
- Don’t take it personally if the person lashes out. When you approach someone and try to help them deal with their PTSD, they may not respond the way that you want them to. In fact, they may sometimes lash out at you. Even if you frequently get rebuked, it is important to keep trying. The only reason that people respond with anger when you try to help them is because they are afraid and they don’t know how to deal with the issue on their own. The healing process does require your help and persistence, however.
- Dealing with PTSD can be isolating. It is easy to feel very alone when you suffer from this condition. That is why it is so important to continually reach out to your loved one to let them know that you are there for them, regardless of what happens.