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How You Can Help A Loved One Suffering From PTSD

When someone is diagnosed with PTSD, loved ones can also experience a lot of difficulties. You may feel guilty or angry about the trauma itself—then, on top of those feelings, experience difficulties around PTSD. You may feel like your loved one is a different person, worry that things will never be normal, or wonder what will happen in the future. Here are some tips to help you cope:

  • Start by learning more about PTSD. This can give you a better idea of your loved one’s experiences.

  • People who experience PTSD may withdraw from family and friends. Even if your loved one doesn’t want to talk, you can still remind them that you are there to listen when they’re ready.

  • Understand that behaviours related to PTSD—like avoiding certain situations or reacting angrily to a minor problem—are not about you. They are about the illness.

  • While it’s usually not a good idea to support behaviours that create problems, it’s still important to support your loved one’s overall movement toward wellness. This balance is not always easy, but you need to respect your own boundaries, too.

  • Ask what you can do to help, but don’t push unwanted advice.

  • Try to put your own feelings into words and encourage your loved one to do the same. It’s easier to solve problems or look at conflicts when you know what’s really going on.

  • Take care of your own wellness, and seek support for yourself if you experience difficulties.

  • If a loved one’s PTSD is affecting other family members, it may be helpful to seek family counselling.

With support, people can recover from PTSD and the effects of trauma. Recovery is good for the entire family, especially for young people who are still learning how to interact with the world. A loved one’s recovery is a chance for everyone to learn the skills that support wellness.

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