People react differently to trauma. Some seem to have a natural ability to rebound. Others develop Port Traumatic Stress, a disorder that creates ongoing symptoms like unrelieved and intense fear, helplessness and repeated re-living of the trauma.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress
People with PTSD relive the incident over and over through flashbacks, frightening dreams, and anxious thoughts. These episodes can happen out of nowhere or be triggered by something like a smell or sound or image. Because reliving the trauma can be crushing, people with PTSD may find themselves avoiding anything that might remind them of the incident. They may withdraw socially, stop interacting with their family. They might detach completely from their emotions or they might overreact to them. It is not unusual for people to have trouble sleeping, to seem remarkably angry or to startle easily and severely.
How to Support Someone with PTSD
Living with someone experiencing Post Traumatic Stress can be difficult. You might not understand their actions, why they withdraw or why they get so angry so quickly. It can even lead to developing your own symptoms. Compassion is the first step to being supportive. Remember that they might not always have control over their behavior. Keeping in mind that someone with PTSD is doing what they can to evade or mitigate their symptoms helps you avoid personalizing their actions. They are simply trapped in a cycle.
To people with PTSD, boundaries are critical. They need to feel like they have control over their environment. That being said, providing social support is one of the most effective ways to counteract the helplessness people with PTSD often feel. Knowing how to be there without crossing boundaries is complicated. It is natural to want your loved ones to talk about their problems but forcing it can actually do more harm than good. They will talk when they are ready. All you can do is be there. Having people they know will accept them without condition provides the comfort people with PTSD need to eventually open up.
As much as possible, do “ordinary” things. Show your loved one that there is a world outside of their trauma. This builds a hope that someday, the symptoms will fade. Do not judge the trauma. This only adds to shame and grief. Lastly, manage your own stress. If you are calm and relaxed it is easier for your loved one to feel the same.
If you have experienced trauma and are using drugs or alcohol to manage the symptoms, know that you are strong and capable but that there is help out there. Fort Worth Recovery uses various methods to help people move beyond their illness. You can be healthy again. Let us help. Call us today at 817 382 2894 or visit us online.