Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, known by many simply as PTSD, is a disorder people can develop after experiencing a particularly stressful or traumatic event. In Australia, between 5 and 10% of the population may experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
PTSD can be debilitating, often making it difficult for people to enjoy things they used to, and it can lead to them developing other mental illnesses, like depression, phobias, and anxiety.
PTSD can negatively affect a person’s relationships, confidence, and social life, and it can be difficult to deal with alone.
The condition can make it hard for people to control their behaviour, leading to outbursts and trust issues and making it difficult for you to reach out to them. But with the right kind of support, you can help them recover.
Here are a few ways that you can help someone with PTSD through their recovery.
1. Listen and communicate
Communication is a good way to help an individual with PTSD; however, it’s important to make sure that you don’t push the person under your care to talk. Individuals with PTSD should be given time to open up.
When conversing with the person under your care, listening to them is more important than trying to give them advice.
They may want to speak about the traumatic event they’ve been through, and sometimes, they may repeatedly talk about this event. This is completely normal and you should avoid asking them to stop—let them speak about it as many times as they want to.
There will be times when the person under your care may tell you something you might not like to hear, and it’s okay to feel this way. But it’s important to continue listening to them and respecting their emotions.
Avoid doing the following things when they speak to you:
- Speaking about your experiences over theirs
- Denying or invalidating their traumatic experiences
- Blaming them for the way they feel
Doing any of the above could make the person under your care lose trust in you and they may not open up to you again.
2. Give social support
Many individuals with PTSD become withdrawn from their loved ones. They start to feel ashamed of their condition or feel that others won’t understand them.
It’s important that you give the person under your care space and respect their boundaries, but at the same time, they’ll need face-to-face support from others to help them deal with PTSD.
Try to do normal day-to-day activities with the person under your care. Encourage them to make new friends or reconnect with their old ones, help them discover a social activity they enjoy, and have them participate in family activities and outings.
Always let the person under your care take the lead; let them decide what they want to do, and if they don’t want to participate in a particular social activity, don’t force them.
Also, when doing social activities with the person under your care, you should be patient with them. There may be a few setbacks during these activities, but you must remain positive and supportive of them.
3. Manage triggers
Places, smells, sounds, or sights related to the traumatic event the person under your care experienced could trigger PTSD symptoms, such as flashbacks and panic attacks.
Speak to the person under your care to help you figure out what may trigger their PTSD symptoms and develop a plan as to how they will respond to these triggers.
If the person under your care starts to have flashbacks or panic attacks after encountering a trigger, here are a few things you can do to help them:
- Assure them that the flashback isn’t real and that they’re safe
- Ensure you don’t make any sudden movements so as to not startle them
- Avoid touching them without their permission
- Encourage them to take slow, deep breaths
It’s also very important that you remain calm and collected during these episodes so that you can help the person under your care better.
4. Prepare for volatile situations
Individuals with PTSD often have trouble managing emotions like anger, causing them to become irritable and prone to violent outbursts. In many cases, people with PTSD try to contain their anger but lose control when you least expect it.
Keep an eye out for signs of anger, such as clenched fists, agitation, and talking loudly. If you notice these signs, try to calm the person down, assuring them that they’re safe and that you’re here to help.
Don’t attempt to grab them or crowd around them as this could make them feel threatened. Ask what you could do to assist them and suggest a change of scenery to help calm them down.
You may not always be able to control the situation. If this happens, don’t be afraid to leave the room and give them some space to calm down.
5. Offer to help with treatment and therapy
While support from loved ones is important for a person dealing with PTSD, it won’t always be enough. Treatment and therapy also play a major role in the recovery process.
Helping someone with PTSD by bringing up treatment can be difficult, but trying to help them understand the benefits of getting treated for PTSD could go a long way.
Always be honest with them; don’t tell them therapy is a definitive cure for their condition. Instead, let them know that therapy will take time, but it could help them with their recovery.
Discover more ways to help someone with PTSD
Taking care of a person with PTSD can be challenging to do on your own. Fortunately, there are support providers on the Sunshine Coast that can help people with this condition.
Services like peer support and support accommodations for people of all abilities, can help the person under your care through their recovery. Speak to an all abilities support provider today!
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