What to Expect
It’s important to remember that the behavior of someone who has PTSD is almost always plagued with symptoms that cause them to act much differently, often against their will. Remember to be patient and try your hardest not to become upset with a loved one who is experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here are some symptoms and behaviors that are caused by PTSD that are commonly present and can alter your relationship with your loved one:
- Triggers that cause flashbacks, nightmares, and unwanted memories of the traumatic event in question (It’s important to be sensitive to these triggers and to help your loved one avoid or cope with them)
- Change in attitude towards you or someone they know, often caused by mistrust in others as the result of a traumatic event (Try and remember that it’s nothing personal, they simply have issues with trust after what they’ve been through)
- Inability to talk about the traumatic event (Remember, try not to push them and wait until they’re ready to talk)
- Extreme paranoia and loss of faith in the world (again, remember that it’s nothing personal)
- Panic attacks or overwhelming fear
How to Help
It’s crucial to remember that your role as a loved one is imperative to a patient’s recovery. One of the most helpful things that you can do to aid in the recovery process is simply being a friend. Someone with PTSD already has many hardships, so a kind and patient support system is extremely helpful. Here are important things to remember and do when dealing with a friend or family member with PTSD:
- Listen: Once again, it may take a while for a patient to be ready to discuss their traumatic event(s), and it really depends on the circumstances. It’s essential to be as patient as possible, and don’t try and push them to talk, as it can make things worse. Most patients already have immense issues with trust so pushing them to speak about their event can make them lose trust and damage your relationship.
- Be respectful, nonjudgmental, and impartial: Dealing with PTSD causes people to feel and do things that are particularly unusual that they usually wouldn’t. Respect their feelings and experiences and don’t judge how they behave or feel as they can’t control it. Remember that your role as a friend or family member is to support and love them as unconditionally as possible.
- Educate yourself: Something that can help a tremendous amount is learning as much as you can about PTSD, the symptoms, treatments, and behaviors. There are countless websites that have resources and information that you can use to help your loved one recover.
- Be a distraction: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder often causes patients to fixate and focus on their traumatic event whether they’d like to or not. Because of this, providing a good distraction can be extremely helpful to your friend or family member to cope. You can ask them to go to a movie, go for a walk, have lunch, exercise, or begin a new hobby.
- Keep your relationship strong and healthy: PTSD can put a lot of stress on a patient’s relationships, but it’s essential that they have a support system of some kind. A lot of the time, an individual with PTSD will try their hardest to push away anyone who tries to help them. It’s important to prevent this from happening and to ensure that your relationship doesn’t become harmful to either of you. A good way to make sure that your relationship stays strong and productive is to attend therapy together and to always communicate your thoughts and feelings.