The truth of the matter is that it may feel overwhelming to help someone with PTSD. There is no doubt PTSD is a serious disorder that comes with a major impact on a person’s life. Nevertheless, it is not up to you to force your family member or loved one to get help or try to cure them.
Your primary duty is to take positive steps to show your loved one or friend that you care about them and support them. For this reason, we have compiled seven methods you can use to help them.
- Learn More About PTSD
Educating yourself about PTSD is the first and most important way you can support your friend or family member. PTSD is a condition that is misunderstood and comes with stigmatisation. However, if you take the time to know more about it, you will be in a better position to understand your loved one or friend. Remember, you should not concentrate on the symptoms but on how that person feels and their emotional experience.
Taking this action will make you more understanding, compassionate, and help you eliminate any misconceptions you may have. The hypnotherapy experts at MMNLP explain, “Through education, you will see that a majority of people’s experiences are not like what you see in most popular cultures.” That is because the effects and symptoms of PTSD may be restrained and less obvious. However, it is still not difficult for people experiencing PTSD.
People with PTSD experience social isolation most of the time. That is because it comes with a feeling of fear and anxiety of judgment from others, which makes a person with PTSD avoid others (friends and family). However, through education, you can help prevent this, which of course is known to worsen the situation.
You can prevent self-isolation through support by listening and showing that you care. Never force someone with PTSD into sharing when they do not feel like it or suggest actions they are not ready to take. Practice being steady, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Patience Is The Key
It is difficult for a person with PTSD to talk about it. With time, it can make their symptoms worse and make them relive the trauma over and over again. However, when someone is ready to share with you, they will share without any obligations.
However, for this to happen, one must be patient. Pushing someone into talking when they are not ready is not recommended or helpful in the long term. A person with PTSD needs to feel comfortable sharing their experience at their own time and pace.
- Listening Is Paramount
To offer social support, listening is paramount. Turf installer Patty Leglise explains that although it is not a good idea to push someone to talk or share their experience, you should always be ready to listen. As such, practice active listening to show you are engaged but never try to compare your feelings or experiences. It does not matter if you have experienced something similar, you do not want to say you understand, because you do not know the exact experience they are going through. Listening is enough.
- Never Judge
Consultant Leo Close explains, “One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make is judging simply because that person is not doing what you want them to do. For example, you may want that person to share their experience, but they are not ready to share. You may feel compelled to judge that person. Don’t do this, but rather be open and ready for anything.”
In other words, offer a safe space for your friend or family that is free from judgement. Be ready to listen to difficult and upsetting stories.
- Know About Their Triggers
PTSD comes with a trigger, which can be anything that creates a fear response. This can range from something ordinary to something extraordinary. The trigger reminds the person with PTSD of the trauma they experienced. It is important to note that everyone’s trigger is unique and specific to their experience.
Talk to them about their specific triggers and find ways to help them prevent those where possible. A PTSD trigger can be a location, people, dates, smell, sound, and also a type of weather.
- Encourage Them To Seek Treatment
Never force someone with PTSD to seek treatment or take it upon you to treat them. However, you can encourage them to seek medical treatment.
NOTE: encouragement is not forcing.
Sydney architect Michael Yousef urges people to “not forget that it is beyond your control to make someone seek treatment. When they are ready or considering treatment you can offer encouragement. When they are ready, research some treatment options available and look for a treatment program that specialises in PTSD. Only explore the benefits of treatment when they are ready to go and share their experience.”