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Helping yourself & others

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Helping yourself & others

People who have experienced and recovered from posttraumatic stress disorder are clear that PTSD cannot be battled alone.

It takes a social support system and the help of a trained mental health professional. It also takes courage, coping, and self-care. If you love someone who has PTSD, it affects you, too. When someone you love has been in danger or harmed, you will have your own feelings of fear, anger, and sadness. You also want to help your loved one. What are the ways you can help your family member or friend? The most important thing is to encourage her to seek help. Talk to your loved one about making an appointment to see the doctor and offer to go along.

Coping with PTSD

The National Center for PTSD has a fact sheet called "Coping With PTSD." In this article, Joe Ruzek, Ph.D., writes: “Recovery from PTSD is an ongoing, daily, gradual process... When a trauma survivor takes direct action to cope with problems, he or she often gains a sense of personal power and control.”

Coping strategies recommended by Dr. Joe Ruzek:

  • Learn about trauma and PTSD
  • Talk to other people for support
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Practice relaxation methods
  • Increase positive activities
  • Talk to a counselor
  • Take medication as prescribed
  • Eat well and exercise
  • Put effort into relationships with family and friends
  • Volunteer in your community

In addition, he cautions against coping behaviors that ultimately make PTSD symptoms worse, such as drug and alcohol use, isolation and avoidance, and giving way to anger.

Expressing yourself

Some people dealing with PTSD have found it helpful to find ways to express themselves. People have found help from journaling, blogging, and the visual arts. Some people experiencing PTSD are writing blogs about their journey.

Social support

Getting help from others is one of the best ways to conquer PTSD. Learning that you’re not alone counteracts the isolation and withdrawal you may feel and helps to put your memories in context, taking away some of their power to disrupt your life. Recognizing this, some people have found help from social support, including support groups and family counseling. Some programs train people who are recovering from PTSD to reach out to others like them who may not have gotten help yet to encourage them to seek help.

Helping someone you love

Ways to help a loved one with PTSD:

  • Learn about posttraumatic stress disorder and other common reactions to have a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing
  • Learn what triggers PTSD symptoms in your loved one and be flexible to help him learn how to better handle and approach these triggers
  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
  • Listen to the feelings and stories your loved one shares; she may need to talk through them many times. Don’t push for information or details
  • Plan positive activities that keep your loved one engaged with the world, such as walks, outings, getting back to work, and other activities
  • Remind your loved one that with time, support, and treatment, she can get better

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