PTSD takes a heavy toll on relationships, and it can be tough to comprehend your loved one’s behavior. You may feel like you’re in a very precarious situation or living with a stranger. You may have to assume a bigger responsibility and deal with the frustration of a loved one who can’t open up or even deal with strong emotional outbursts such as anger or disturbing behavior. The symptoms of PTSD may even lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.
However, with sufficient support from family and friends, your loved one’s nervous system can get better again, and they can finally move on from the traumatic event.
Usually, people with PTSD tend to withdraw from family and friends. While it’s important to maintain your loved one’s boundaries, your support can help the person with PTSD overcome feelings of grief, helplessness, and despair. Trauma specialists believe that face-to-face support from others is a critical factor in PTSD recovery.
Don’t force your loved one to talk. It can be tough for people with PTSD to share their traumatic experiences. It can even make them feel worse at times. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen whenever they are ready to talk, or just hang out when they don’t.
Let your loved one be in charge, instead of telling him or her what to do. Everyone with PTSD is different, but most people instinctively know what makes them feel stable and calm. Observe signs from your loved one as to how you can provide support and companionship.
Manage your stress. If you’re calm, composed, and focused, you’ll be able to better help your loved one.
Do usual things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to seek out friends, participate in a rhythmic exercise, or pursue hobbies that bring pleasure. You can take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
Patience is the key. Recovery takes time and often involves setbacks. It is important to stay positive and offer support to your loved one.