How to Support Someone Suffering from PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition people suffer after experiencing a shocking, tragic, and dangerous incident. Their brain goes into lockdown mode or resorts to a flight or fight response because of certain triggers. This entails behavioral and physical changes accompanied by other mental health complications.

Living and dealing with a person who has PTSD can be disheartening, and it can test your bond in ways you never thought were possible. You might struggle to understand why you cannot connect with your loved ones and why they seem distant and sometimes erratic when they were never like this before. The unpredictability and drastic changes in their behavior might put you off or force you to find faults in your behavior, but the truth is each person with PTSD has different demons and fears, and none of it is your fault.

I am married to a veteran who struggles with PTSD every day after divorcing another veteran with PTSD who couldn’t keep his demons in check. His PTSD manifested in domestic violence—something I couldn’t help him with despite my wishes.  

Fortunately, I was able to support my current partner better as his fears don’t have violent consequences. We have found a balance that’s impossible for families who have more than one member dealing with deprecating mental health to achieve.

Here’s how I supported my partner with PTSD:

1. Provide a Safe Environment:

PTSD stems from fear and trauma; hence, providing your partner with a safe environment is essential. Figure out their triggers and what makes them feel safe so whenever they feel scared, and under pressure, you are there to provide them with the support and help they need.

A small gesture like a back hug and positive verbal affirmation can soothe their nerves and set their head straight.

2. Build a Support System:

Since people with PTSD cannot control their mood swings and volatile behavior, they count themselves as a burden and try to distance themselves from close relations. To counter their defensive behavior, you must build a strong support system for them to rely on in their darkest hour. Let them know you care for them and won’t mind providing them comfort and support whenever needed.  

3. Work on Your Communication:

Communicating with a mentally disturbed individual can be taxing, yet it is the only thing that can make or break your relationship. Sometimes they don’t want to talk at all about what’s bothering them; other times, their trauma is all they talk about. Either way, you must be patient and lend a listening ear whenever needed without passing any judgment.

You can learn more about PTSD and the importance of supporting your partner from my book, “Chasing the Dark.” It highlights the importance of open communication and a sympathetic heart in the thick of social and mental problems.

Get your copy from Amazon now!

Bottom Line:

It is perfectly alright to feel frustrated while dealing with a person with PTSD. You might grow wary of additional household responsibilities and lose heart when despite your efforts, your loved one continues to grow distant and disassociates from their reality. Still, if you want to make things work, you should not take their behavior to heart.

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Chasing the dark by Joleen and Justin