If your loved one has post traumatic stress disorder, they may feel isolated and alone. So whether they’ve already been diagnosed, or you simply suspect PTSD, knowing how to be there for them can go a long way toward a healthy recovery.
1) Learn PTSD causes and symptoms.
The more you know about PTSD, the better equipped you are to help, particularly if your loved on has yet to be officially diagnosed. Get the facts about PTSD causes and symtpoms.
2) Identify treatment options and professionals who can help.
If they have yet to be diagnosed, but the symptoms are there, it’s a good idea to encourage your loved one to see someone about it. Even if the suspected catalyst for possible PTSD seems a small, unlikely source, it should not be taken for granted. PTSD can escalate quickly, and the sooner help is sought, the greater the chances for successful treatment.
3) Offer to go with your loved one to the doctor.
Nobody likes going to the doctor, particularly for a possible diagnosis for something as foreign and frightening as PTSD. Offering to accompany your loved one can make a world of difference, providing just the kind of comfort they need to find the courage to seek help.
4) Make sure your loved one knows you’re there for them.
If and when your loved one is diagnosed with PTSD, take the time to sit down with them for a quiet conversation in which you express what they may most need to hear — that you’re there to listen anytime they want to talk, without fear of judgement or shame.
5) Plan fun activities.
Things your loved one once enjoyed may now be sources of fear and pain. Still, it is critical that they engage in activities of some sort that can bring them pleasure and joy. So get creative with ideas and start making suggestions. The wider range of things you come up with, the greater the likelihood something will sound possible and appealing– from a game of cards, to a walk in the park, to a night out at the movies.
6) Encourage them to see family and friends.
When making plans for fun activities, suggest including other family members and friends. These need not be grand gatherings of people. Just three or four of you is small enough to feel comfortable, but big enough to feel social.
7) Be patient.
All of your best intentions may be met with disinterest, frustration, even anger. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you that’s the problem; it’s the PTSD. Back off when you feel your loved one needs space, but don’t give up. Be patient with the process.
8) Take care of yourself.
The closer you are to a loved one suffering from PTSD, the greater your challenge to give yourself the attention you need, particularly if you live together. While you may have the natural inclination to devote all your time and energy to your loved one’s recovery, neither of you will be served by this in the long run. It is critical that you take time every day to make sure your own needs are being met — not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. This means maintaining your connections with other family members and friends, as well as your participation in activities that are important to your overall well-being.