Post-Traumatic Distress Disorder, or as it is better known, PTSD, affects just under 4% of the population. Its symptoms know no boundaries: PTSD occurs across income levels, ethnic groups and nationalities. It’s likely that you even know someone with PTSD. If so, you’re probably wondering how to help someone with PTSD. Here’s what you need to know.
Understand That It’s Real
Unfortunately, because the trauma of PTSD takes place inside of a person’s mind and body, it’s easy for those on the outside looking in to disregard the person’s condition. Some people just don’t believe that it’s a real illness, but it is. Many people who encounter someone with PTSD try to talk them out of it, believing that the person can just get over the condition if he really wants to.
This is not the case. Perhaps, someone you know is exhibiting the symptoms of PTSD. You probably want to help. However, before you can learn how to help someone with PTSD, you must first learn about it and acknowledge that it is a very real condition.
How to Help Someone With PTSD Symptoms
This condition develops when a person experiences a traumatic event, which results in that person’s triggered fight or flight mode. This causes the system to get stuck in the overwhelmed state that’s associated with trauma. In large part, it’s the stuck state and the “over wired” fight or flight system that contributes to these symptoms.
- Traumatic memories: These come in the form of actual memories as well as bad dreams or even flashbacks. Physical symptoms, like panic attacks, headaches or heart palpitations can also accompany these memories.
- Changes in behavior: The changes in the body and the brain’s physiology can result in behavior changes when a person has this condition. In this case, the symptoms of PTSD manifest as conditions, like insomnia, nightmares, hypervigilance, difficulty focusing and irrational, angry outbursts.
- Avoidance: It’s common for a person who is exhibiting the symptoms of PTSD to have issues with avoidance. The person may not want to talk about the event. They’ll distance themselves from the people and places that remind them of the event. They’ll try not to think about it.
Knowing what the symptoms of PTSD are can help you in your quest to help a friend or family member cope with PTSD. Knowledge is power in this case. Without this knowledge, it’s nearly impossible to implement any other PTSD remedies.
Encourage Them to Wind Down and Reorient Themselves
It’s human nature to want to encourage a person with PTSD symptoms to talk. However, before they can, they need to get their depression and anxiety under control. If you’re trying to learn how to help someone with PTSD, it may pay to take a step back a bit.
Here’s what to do when they’re not ready to talk. Get them to reorient themselves into the present moment. There’s a simple way to do this. Ask them to look around the room and verbally identify five to 10 blue objects in the room.
They should be using their bodies in the process, meaning that as they look around the room, they should turn their heads and move their bodies. Often tasks like this can reset their brains and bring them out of their immediate PTSD responses.
Regaining a Sense of Control
When people come in for mental health counseling services in TN, they often express that they have lost their sense of control. This is a normal trauma response. As a person who wants to support a loved one with PTSD, you’ll want to help them regain a sense of control and safety.
What this entails varies with each person. Some people may need to have others around them so that they don’t feel abandoned. Other PTSD sufferers may need more personal space for a while.
It’s best to ask if you don’t know what this means for your loved one, and then, grant their wishes without exhibiting judgment. Everyone heals at their own pace.
People with PTSD symptoms can feel lost, damaged and alone. These feelings often make the people around them want to learn how to help them. However, learning how to help someone with PTSD is a process that requires knowledge and patience. If you know someone who suffers from PTSD and you don’t feel equipped to help them, you may want to suggest that they seek out mental health counseling services in TN.