June is PTSD Awareness Month; a time to share resources about PTSD and effective treatment.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD, and not everyone who develops PTSD requires long term treatment. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. The symptoms of PTSD can lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.
With the right support from family and friends, your loved one can get better and here’s how you can help.
You don’t have to be a mental health professional to make an impact on someone’s recovery! In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery. It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from family and friends. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, your comfort and support can help them overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair.
Everyone with PTSD is different but most people instinctively know what makes them feel calm and safe. Pay attention to cues from your loved one as to how you can best provide support and practice patience. Emotional growth is not always linear, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings.
While you shouldn’t push a person with PTSD to talk, if they do choose to share, try to listen without expectations or judgments. Use compassionate responses and make it clear that you care, but don’t give advice. Listening attentively is helpful to your loved one, not what you say.
Helping a person with PTSD can be hard. You may have your own feelings of fear and anger about the trauma. You may also feel guilty, confused or frustrated because your loved one has changed, and you may worry that your family life will never get back to normal. All of this can drain you. If you feel yourself getting sick or often feel sad and hopeless, see your doctor.