Human life is full of experiences. Adverse situations can have a long-lasting impact on an individual’s functionality and response patterns. Events that are traumatic can happen once or can happen in series or on multiple occasions in one’s life. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD can be experienced as emotionally and/or physically harmful, it can impact the personal, mental and social functionality of a person. PTSD usually occurs after intense events such as natural disasters, wars, sexual abuse, accidents or at a personal level as a result of domestic violence or bullying, Traumatic experiences can happen at any age and to anyone irrespective of their gender. (Also read: Sleep spindles can reduce anxiety in people with PTSD: Study )
Tips for Supporting Loved Ones with PTSD
PTSD is not only difficult for individuals suffering through it but it is also complex for their family and friends to understand and respond to. Mrudula Joshi, Psychologist with Mpower, shared with HT Lifestyle some tips to support your loved ones suffering from PTSD.
1. Learn about the nature of PTSD
As an outcome of PTSD, the sufferer May display extreme moodiness, irritation and anger. As a family member one might find it very difficult to understand what they are going through and how to help them. It’s important to understand that a person going through PTSD might not have control over their behaviours and reactions. Depression, mistrust, anger – irritability are all part of the impact of traumatic events. Their Nervous system response is being “stuck” on the event and moving on from that is difficult. Understanding the nature of PTSD can help one support their loved one better.
2. Be empathetic and listen
Sympathy and empathy are two different actions. Being empathetic and non-judgemental gives them a space to express what they are going through. People going through PTSD usually feel ashamed, being a burden on someone and usually withdraw socially. Hence showing up to support and being empathetic helps them to build resilience and cope with traumatic experiences.
3. Reassure and make them feel safe
PTSD leads individuals to make it difficult to trust people easily. Reassuring that you are there even if they break down and cry, holding them safely, minimising stress in the family, being consistent in keeping your words so they start developing trust, empowering them to rebuild themselves helps them to bounce back.
4. Anticipating and managing triggers
knowing about what reminds them of traumatic events and knowing how he/she wants you to support them helps them cope when they have had a nightmare/ panic attack.
5. Supporting treatment
Remembering that only support does not help them heal and supporting them through treatment – reminding them or taking them to their scheduled appointments, keeping track of medicines, and emphasising on benefits of treatment can be the biggest contributing factor in supporting your loved one suffering from PTSD.