5 Ways to Help Someone with PTSD

Tuesday, 15th May 2018

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PTSD - or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - is an anxiety disorder that is said to affect around 1 in every 3 people who have experienced a traumatic event. Like many mental health issues, PTSD is widely misunderstood, and is often left untreated by those suffering from it. PTSD isn’t a disorder that only affects veterans or functions in the kind of ways that you might have seen in films, but can also have serious consequences for those who have experienced events including sexual assault, natural disasters, and serious road accidents.

Considering the gravity of this disorder, therefore, helping a friend or loved one to cope with PTSD may seem like a daunting task. This doesn’t have to be the case, given that with the correct support and understanding of this issue, sufferers can overcome their illness. Here are five key ways in which you can help someone cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

1. Manage their potential triggers

One key characteristic of PTSD is that a post-traumatic episode can be set off by a number of triggers. A trigger can come in any form, but commonly appears as:

  • A sight, smell, or sound associated with the trauma
  • Interactions with people associated with the trauma
  • Media such as film, television or music that reminds the individual of their suffering
  • Significant dates or times relating to the trauma
  • Stresses in relationships, work, school or one’s financial life
  • Funerals, weddings and medical treatment.

The best way to control the possible effect of these triggers is to be aware of them. Speak to medical health professionals and the person suffering from PTSD to learn more about their specific situation. Without pressuring that person into talking, help them to talk to you about potentially triggering situations, so you can make sure that those situations don’t arise unknown.

2. Create a strong support network

As with so many mental illnesses, one vital step to recovery is making sure that the individual has an established, caring support network. These networks serve not just as safety nets, but as webs of communication to help an individual talk to those close to them, and better understand their own problem.

A successful support network should begin with close friends and family who know the issue well, and extend to therapists who can provide professional advice. These support networks have the potential to help the individual manage their anxiety and live a normal life, surrounded by those they love, despite their traumatic experiences.

3. Help them find the right therapist

Such an important - and often overlooked - part of dealing with mental health issues is finding a therapist who is right for them; individually. You wouldn’t buy shoes two sizes small, so why work with a therapist who doesn’t match up with the values important to you. When dealing with PTSD, make sure that your friend, loved one, or even yourself is able to speak with someone they trust, and who they feel can help them get through their illness.

4. Help them to understand their trauma

Often, a key part of dealing with PTSD is to help the individual confront and assess their own experiences. This should be done with a therapist, but can prove to be a hugely effective way understanding their trauma and overcome it. This process involves empathetic communication, being willing to listen, and - above all else - finding a therapist who the individual feels comfortable talking to.

5. Put yourself in the best possible situation to help them

Finally, if someone you care about is dealing with PTSD, make sure that you - yourself - are not sacrificing your own wellbeing for theirs. PTSD is an illness that is upsetting from both a first and second hand perspective, meaning that triggers can sometimes be adopted by a party trying to help, and that one person’s trauma can cause another person’s to resurface. Before helping your loved ones, make sure that you’re helping yourself help them. Be aware of your own mental state, and then focus on their recovery.

If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, you might find it very difficult to talk about your experiences with those closest to you. Talking to a trained therapist provides the space to gradually confront challenging memories and “work through” your experiences in a controlled and safe manner. Speak to one of our team to get help to find a therapist today.

Greg Humphries is an emerging novelist and journalist from Brentwood, UK who has been published in Pluralist Media and Fox & Hedgehog amongst other political magazines and websites. Having moved to New York in 2016, he is passionate about mental health advocacy. You can reach out to Greg directly on: greghumphries@live.co.uk


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