Dr. Gregory Jantz

How to Help Someone Suffering from PTSD

June 30, 2014

Traumatic events happen every day, and can hit unfortunately close to home. Each day people are faced with sudden deaths of loved ones, natural disasters, life-threatening illness, car crashes, abuse, rape, and other unforeseen traumas. These life events can cause an upheaval of emotions and destroy a person’s equilibrium, causing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Often, these traumas and their aftereffects are more than a person can handle on their own. They need the support of their loved ones and their community. In recognition of National PTSD Awareness Day, below are practical ways to support people in your life that may be struggling with PTSD.

  • Be patient. Recovering from a serious trauma takes time. Moreover, each individual and each situation is unique, and therefore the amount of time needed to heal can vary greatly. When supporting someone who is recovering from a trauma, be patient and open to their recovery process. Withhold judgment or expectation on how quickly they should recover.
  • Do not take their trauma symptoms personally. Following a traumatic event, your loved one may exhibit uncharacteristic behavior. You may witness them being abnormally angry, mean, or closed off. Although these behaviors may feel harsh, remember that they are simply processing the event, and that their abnormal behaviors should not be taken personally. Be patient and continue to offer love and support during these trying times.
  • Offer practical support. In addition to the profound jolt to a person’s emotional well-being, a life trauma can upset even the simplest daily routine. Offering to help with the practicalities of child-care, making meals, and cleaning the house are simple yet important ways to help.
  • Be available to talk. Every person processes differently. While some people may process verbally and appreciate having a listening ear, others may want to avoid the topic entirely. Do not pressure your loved one either way. Make yourself available to talk, but follow their lead.
  • Find positive outlets. People suffering from PTSD can often experience paralysis—they don’t want to socialize, exercise, or participate in normal, uplifting activities. If possible, encourage your loved one to step outside their current comfort zone to connect with people, move their body, or do something fun. Offering to join them for these activities can be a great way to show your support.
  • Seek the support of a professional. While a period of grieving and processing is normal following a traumatic event, untreated PTSD can cause a litany of long-term problems including depression, eating disorders, anxiety and addiction. If you are concerned that your loved one might require the help of a professional, contact the team of professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE by calling 1-888-771-5166 today.