Today’s post is provided by guest blogger Julia Merrill, a retired board certified nurse practitioner and founder of befriendyourdoc.org, a website dedicated to helping people become their own advocate in seeking medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and making sure they are contributing to their own health and well-being.
A Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis in a loved one can be very difficult to swallow. You may not know what to expect or how you can help them get through this trying time.
The first step is to do your research and prepare yourself for what PTSD looks like. You need to learn how to interact with someone experiencing PTSD and how you can help when things go downhill. There are a number of ways you will be able to help your loved one but first, here are a few things you need to know about PTSD.
Each case of PTSD looks different, but there are some common signs and symptoms of the disorder. Most people will experience intrusive and recurring memories of their trauma. This can cause depression and a negative outlook as they relive the experience over and over.
Their emotions will likely turn negative as well. They may become angry, irritated, sad, or ashamed. They are also very likely to experience insomnia as well as jumpiness, which for veterans is often a consequence of serving active duty and being exposed to combat. The reaction to each trauma is different, but any of these symptoms are a telltale sign of the disorder.
The Potential Risks
Beyond the symptoms, PTSD can lead to other detrimental disorders or risk factors. Social isolation as a result of fear or depression is very common in people with PTSD. This isolation can easily lead to worsened depression and the risk of addiction as a result of self-medication.
Alcoholism is one of the greatest risks. PTSD can also lead an individual to experience suicidal thoughts as well as exhibiting reckless behavior. If you notice any of these negative effects or behaviors, it is important that you get your loved one help. With the rate of suicide in people with PTSD, taking precautions is critical.
There are several options for treatment, most of which will revolve around counseling. As therapy becomes more accepted, more and more options for types of therapy become available. Things like exercise or art therapy are not uncommon in people with PTSD.
Of course, talk therapy can be equally beneficial. It simply depends on how your loved one responds to treatment. Medications may also be included.
Being supportive is your main objective as the loved one of a PTSD sufferer. Many activities that seem normal to you can be excruciatingly difficult for them. You should learn what your loved one’s comfort zone is and do your best to avoid settings that may trigger an episode.
Even bringing your dog over for a visit can be a great way to help fight depression. You want to do everything you can to keep their mood up, prevent social isolation, and ensure they are getting proper treatment.
Though knowing your loved one has had a traumatic experience can be upsetting, it is important that you remain positive and supportive. Someone with PTSD does not need you to play therapist or offer sympathy. They need professional treatment and love and support. Whether that means coaxing them out of the house for a hike or bringing the family dog over for a game of fetch, what matters is that you are doing your best to make them feel secure.
What information or resources have you found most helpful in assisting you to come alonside and support your loved one with PTSD?
Julia Merrill is a retired nurse on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.
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