So Your friend Has PTSD: How Can You help?
Having PTSD (Post-traumatic disorder) can change their life and the life of their friends and family. The person experiencing PTSD may begin to behave in ways that are different from time past. It is possible they will become angry easily. He or she may not want to do things they once enjoyed. When someone you care about recently experienced or witnessed a traumatic event in their life, chances are they would need your support. In cases like these, your friend might initially withdraw from friends and family and their change in behavior might put a toll in their relationships. It is important to learn about PTSD so you can identify the signs, know what to look for and how you can help. If they are suffering from PTSD, your support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair.
While it is overwhelming at first to understand your friend’s situation, it’s important not to get discouraged as your understanding and support can make all the difference. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.
Here are specific steps you can do to help your friend today:
1. Read about PTSD. Recognizing symptoms or signs that your friend might have PTSD can equip you to help them better and put things in perspective. It is a mental health condition caused by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it. You might notice them withdrawing or having severe anxiety from uncontrollable thoughts about the event. If this happens, express your commitment to the relationship and let them know you are there to provide some love and support.
2. Encourage an active lifestyle. The more your friend hides and stays indoors, the more he’ll invite negative feelings and feel isolated. Keep them busy by pursuing activities together, whether a shared hobby, going shopping, or participating in fitness classes. Exercising is a good way to improve overall health — both mentally and physically.
3. Give them space. You wouldn’t want to devote your time with them 24/7 as it can be quite draining for both, so be willing to step back every once in a while. Some PTSD sufferers have occasional anger outbursts so make sure you separate yourself physically from the situation if it continues to escalate.
4. Be there to listen when needed. Build a safe environment for them where they can talk and listen when they start to open up. Be empathetic of their situation and only offer advice when asked. Avoid the temptation to tell them to get over it. You need to listen without any trace of judgment, disapproval or unsolicited advice.
5. Be patient. You’re not certain when your friend will get over the post-traumatic stress. It can take months, or even years. Recovery is a process and can only be healed over time. It’s important to stay patient and be positive, while taking care of your own health and mental state.
Helping someone with PTSD comes with great responsibility and care. You need to be prepared to accept that there are some things you can’t change. However, once you overcome this, you will feel a strong sense of fulfillment knowing that you have helped a friend.
Are you are in crisis?
· Call 911
· Go to the nearest Emergency Room
· Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
· Contact the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255) or Confidential Veterans Chat with a counselor