PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that we as military spouses, family members and veterans face all too often. It could be a loved one, a friend or a colleague that suffers from PTSD.
Many people don’t understand PTSD and they don’t know how to help their service member or friend who is suffering from it. That’s why it’s important to make yourself familiar with this disorder. The more you learn about it, the more you will understand what they are going through and thus the better you’ll be able to help them.
I know quite a few friends that suffer from PTSD. You probably do too and you might not even know it.
PTSD is a mental health problem that anyone can have following a life-threatening event. This could include experiencing or seeing a traumatic event such as sexual assault, a car accident, a natural disaster or more prominently for military service members, combat.
Some people are very good at hiding how they feel. They don’t want to talk about it. They pull away from friends and family and become isolated. They may not enjoy things that they use to. They may become angry easily or when a trigger occurs that reminds them of the traumatic experience.
As a friend or family member, you can help them understand PTSD and get help for the mental health disorder. Many service members are afraid of the stigma that comes with PTSD but it can happen to anyone and it is not a sign of weakness. The statistics are staggering.
- 7 to 8 out of every 100 people will develop PTSD in their lifetime
- 8 million adults suffer from PTSD in a given year
- Roughly 10 out of 100 women will have PTSD at some point whereas 4 out of every 100 men will experience it
One thing that can make PTSD more likely is stress. Support from friends and family members can reduce the chances of someone developing PTSD.
There are four types of PTSD symptoms that you should be on the lookout for if you think that a loved one might be suffering from PTSD. Many relive the event, in which case you might notice they have nightmares or flashbacks of the event. They may avoid situations that make them recall the experience. They may act amped-up or they might become negative in how they feel toward people or events. If you feel that someone you know is showing these signs, be prepared to help them.
Here are a few ways that you can help them cope with PTSD:
- Read about PTSD so that you will understand what they are going through.
- Offer a shoulder to cry on and listen to what they have to say. Do not interrupt them or offer a solution to their problem. Do not blame them or use accusing words. Just listen and if they don’t want to talk, tell them that is ok too.
- Suggest seeking help from a doctor and offer to go with them. There are two ways to treat PTSD: talking to a counselor or medication.
- Plan activities to do with friends or family. Incorporate exercise into a daily routine. Having a purpose and close friends and family that support them can be beneficial.
If you suffer from PTSD, know that you do not have to face it alone. There are people that love you and want to help you. If you don’t want to talk to them, there are ways to seek out help.
- Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Contact the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255) or use the Confidential Veterans Chat to speak with a counselor