Unfortunate accidents could have devastating consequences, not just on a person’s physical health, but also on their psychological well-being. When people think about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, what comes to mind are war veterans or victims of assault. But then we also have the accident victims—the people who were only going about their daily activities when something out of their control happened—who suffer from PTSD as well.
Traumatic events could happen to anyone. In fact, a large percentage of us have either witnessed a traumatic event, or have gone through it ourselves. Though a lot of people can move on from traumatic events after a short period of time, some still continue to experience anxiety and depression months or even years after a traumatic event. They would relive the trauma over and over again through flashbacks or dreams. They might feel detached from their family or loved ones and would avoid certain places in fear of rehashing the trauma. They could also be irritable and suffer from insomnia. All these are signs of PTSD. And this is a serious, potentially debilitating condition.
PTSD takes its toll on the emotional and psychological health of its sufferers. However, there is another, more invisible victims of PTSD: the loved ones or the families of PTSD sufferers. Having someone walking around almost like a ticking time bomb takes its toll on relationships—either romantic or familial. Seeing someone you love change negatively can be frightening. It can leave you feeling angry or helpless. And though it may be hard not to take these changes personally, it is important to remember that your support means all the world to your loved ones suffering from PTSD.
So how do you deal with a loved one who suffers from PTSD?
Do not pressure them into talking
Though a lot of people believe that talking through things will help solve problems, and the more you talk about something, the easier it is to deal with, this might not hold true for PTSD sufferers. In fact, this might actually set them back emotionally and be quite damaging to them. Instead of pushing, make them aware that you are always there, willing to listen, whether they want to talk about it or not. Just listen.
Do not treat them like an invalid
Do normal things with them. Invite them out to do social things even if they say no. Make it clear that the offer to join you is always open, but that there is no pressure to join in. Taking walks (making sure to avoid any places that would trigger them), doing exercises, developing hobbies, or even just talking to old friends could go a long way into helping your loved ones cope with PTSD.
You will feel frustrated and angry at times, especially when their recovery seems to be going backwards. Have patience. Do not get angry or raise your voice or take your frustrations out on them. Recovery is a long process. The more calm and relaxed you are, the better equipped you are to help them.
Most importantly, know when to seek help. When there is talk of suicide, respond calmly but report it quickly. A proper and timely response could save your loved one’s life.
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