16 Ways To Help A Friend With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Helping Someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It can be hard to handle having a close friend or family member with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may struggle with irritability, have problems sleeping at night, be unable to focus, feel depressed or act anxious most of the time. In fact, for some people the symptoms can be so severe that treatment at a certified post traumatic stress disorder treatment center may be necessary. PTSD treatment facilities have been shown to be very beneficial to the health and overall well-being of those with this disorder.

How can you deal with this situation? The following steps can serve as helpful tips for dealing with and loving someone with PTSD.

  1. Learn everything you can about PTSD. By knowing all of this information, you will be better able to handle the situation.
  2. Exercise together. Exercising strengthens the overall body and improves health.
  3. Don’t judge them.
  4. Be there to listen. Make your self available to them when they need to talk. Be an active listener by giving input when needed.
  5. Show respect. Respect them even though they may be having a difficult time at the moment.
  6. Look out for them. Show you care by recognizing when everything doesn’t seem to be okay.
  7. Allow room for mistakes. Recognize that they will make mistakes, but always be there to forgive them and offer help if needed.
  8. Talk positively.
  9. Give them their space. Your loved one may not always want your opinion on everything, be willing to step aside every once in a while and give them some space.
  10. Be active together. Planning and participating in family activities can be a fun way to interact and show them you don’t look down on them.
  11. Love them.
  12. Don’t belittle them. While it is important to not expect too much, not expecting anything at all is unnecessary and can be hurtful.
  13. Be patient.
  14. Avoid harsh remarks. Stay away from telling your friend or family member to get over their problems, this may only make problems worse.
  15. Encourage their self-esteem.
  16. Take care of yourself. Remember that you can’t take care of someone else if you haven’t dealt with yourself first. In many cases seeking out a friend to help you is beneficial.

In serious situations, it may be helpful to seek out the advice and assistance of a medical professional. In addition, post traumatic stress disorder treatment centers are available for anyone suffering from this disorder. A problem like PTSD can escalate quickly. If help is not sought out soon enough the problem may become increasingly worse to the point where full recovery may never be possible.

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31 Responses to “16 Ways To Help A Friend With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”

  1. Amy D.

    I was diagnosed yesterday with severe depression and PTSD. I am already in counseling, however I am afraid of taking any meds., and would rather go with taking supplements. What does your article mean that if it’s not taken care of soon enough full recovery may never be possible? I have attempted suicide 3x’s in the last fours months. Never could have seen this happening to me. I love my husband and kids and just want to fix this. Thankyou for any help you can offer. Amy

  2. Helene B.

    My ex-boyfriend, was dealing with a tradgedy that he had been through, and he was unstable and never sure of his feelings.
    Was going from one extreem to another feeling wise, he never said a word about the accident or how he felt to anyone.
    our on/off friendship/not relationship was too much to handle, recently I sent him a mail suggesting that he gets help with a contact of a psy but I don’t really think that he’ll ever go. What more can I do for him. I’m still inlove with him and am avoiding him since awhile cuz it hurts too bad when we stay friends.
    I still can’t get over the fact that he will never let himself be happy because of his unrest.
    What can I do?

  3. Kelly Borden

    Hi Helene – For help and more information please feel free to contact us at 866-768-6719.

  4. Blythe N.

    I’m not sure if my boyfriend has post traumatic stress disorder. He has these triggers that set him off and he gets flash backs of his ex. She really messed him up. I want to help him but I’m not sure what I can do. I always listen to him when he needs me to but other than that what is there? I want us to be happy. This is getting the way of everything.

  5. alexis

    My boyfriend is do training before heading out again. This is his second deployment and he’s dealing with ptsd. I can’t contact him verbally but he messages me before he goes to sleep. He’s been complaining of nightmares and he’s had an anxiety attack already. I don’t know how else to help him…

  6. Jodi B.

    Please can you help me, my caring husband has applyed for a P.A position looking after a 40 year old man who suffers PTDS. What would it intail? He,s read lots of website about PTDS but still thinks he shoud no more just not sure why a P.A is needed rather than a carer or just company.

  7. Linda W.

    I think that my ex-boyfriend who I’m still in love with might have PTSD. There’s nights were he doesnt go to sleep until 4am.He would then sleep all day long and be up all night. Sometimes when I would wake him up he would jump. There are times were he isolates himself in his room for hours and sometimes days at a time. I care about him and I dont want to see him suffering whats the best way I can help him get through this?????

  8. Lissa

    My fiance will be coming home in just a few short months and has been diagnosed with PTSD. When we Skype I see him go through the flashbacks. I’m trying to find any information possible on how to help him through these. I’m sure when he gets home, they will be more than what I’m seeing now. I know it will take a lot of convincing to get him to see someone so until then, what can I do?

  9. Patti

    I’ve been dating a guy with PTSD for about a month now, we met about 4 months ago. He can’t talk about anything he’s seen or been involved with due to his top secret clearance. He drinks a lot, everyday. He has days that he tells me that he just can’t see me, he doesn’t want me to see him like that. I just want to be there for him. He pushes me away and tells me he’d rather wallow in self pity than put his problems on me. I care about him, problems and all. I don’t know what to do. I give him his space when he asks even though it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. He thinks he’s a bad guy because of his PTSD. I understand, but he still won’t let his guard down.

  10. Crystal

    Hi. I have a special friend that means the world to me. He has been active duty for a long time. He has been back and forth in war. We both care about each other very much but he won’t commit to me. We have talk about us moving in together. Then he backs out. I know he has PTSD can this be why he won’t commit because he is afraid of relationship if it breaks us apart.

  11. amber

    Patti, I am dealing with the exact same thing that you are now. I have no idea how to handle what he is going through. And being the person I am when he pushes me away im sure I make it worse on him by getting upset and feeling unwanted and telling him i feel that way. I think he is a wonderful man, best man I have ever been with. Have you had any luck figuring out what to do what to say, or how to handle it period. In desperate need of a solution. Please help

  12. Laura

    Looks like a lot of us ladies are in the same boat. We want to help him, but he pushes us away. I have a hard time keeping my emotions in check when I get pushed away. I was reading on a site that said that we should find fun things to do. I think that is very good advice. Surprise him, make something fun. Try not to get hurt if it falls flat. My friend basically broke up with me the other day, so I’m not sure how to go about re-connecting. But I think I will try to give him some space and then go put some balloons and a funny card on his car. I guess this is when we need to learn to put ourselves aside. God will bless us for that…..

  13. Ray

    This is very helpful. I am a survivor of child abuse and I have strained relationships but as soon as I opened up about it they were able to help me and support me. Great article!

  14. Terry

    Laura, I suffer from PTSD, and even though you may mean well, putting balloons & a ‘funny card’ on his car could have the opposite effect! It might seem to him that you are belittling him, & think its funny in some way! even though your intentions would be good, ~I thought I’d let you know that your plans might backfire on you!

  15. mary

    I don’t always read the postings in my facebook newsfeed. however, this one caught my eye. if it hasn’t been discussed, many of us have ptsd and haven’t been in the military. for those of us who have had dysfunctional/abusive childhoods, we may have what is called “complex post traumatic disorder”. the reactions are similar to those who have been to war. for example, i am 55 years. in an objective sense i have had a good life. but, as an adult with lots and lots of issues — and see the same issues in my siblings — i am able to see how really dysfunctional we are, how verbally and emotionally abusive we are. now, when certain family arguments begin, when i experience people i don’t know fighting, yelling, etc, i begin to feel antsy. panicky. although we didn’t have lots of parental yelling, the situations were created which allowed sibling fighting and hating, etc. this is the short version.

  16. Angie

    i have a friend with ptsd and it gets really bad sometimes to the point where he is physically hurting himself, and locking himself in for days and I never really know what to do. I’m always there for any sort of support but he really worries me sometimes..

  17. Carrie

    my husband diagnosed w PTSD. We have 3 kids. I have high anxiety already. His mood swings, isolation, irritability, are so hard to deal with. The bad news is that he has been suffering for a year, self medicating for past year not knowing what was wrong with him. My kids are worried, miss him when he isolates. He is so ready for help has started Zoloft, on anxiety meds( finally not abusing he lets me monitor ) I’m worried cuz he waited so long is this irreversible?? How do I respond w/ out getting emotional . I have the hardest time … In trying so hard to stay positive & sometimes go in the closet so he can’t see me cry. I’m trying so hard but getting worn out. We’ve been married 18 yrs. & will not give up on my man & family just need help , tips in how to respond & cope!!! When he wants to isolate I just want to be around him cuz I feel rejected that’s my biggest hurdle..

  18. Jenny

    I started dating a guy recently and completely met him by chance (I found his dogs that had gotten out and returned them home). It didn’t take long and after an invite to church we were tight. Having already met his kids (He has them full time) due to returning the dogs, hanging out with them is just a natural thing. It didn’t take me long to love his kids. We have a connections that is so incredibly odd. This week is the anniversary (7th) of his injury that by all means should have killed him. This past week everything was haywire. I expressed concern to church staff after they noticed and questioned why we weren’t together and they all said the same thing–it has to work itself out because there is no way we could go from being together to not in less than a week. I did approach him but kept things short b/c he was with his (young) kids. I stayed positive and calm, and never once raised my voice or said anything hateful…just continued to speak life and told him that we were worth fighting for. He has severe trust issues (from what he saw in Iraq and from his ex-wife) that never really seemed to get in the way but this week it was so strong. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to lose the 3 most important people in my life. I am willing to forget this week ever happened and move on but I don’t want to lose them. I just don’t know how to do it. He invited me to his church and I’m on the verge of membership but don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. How do I save this?

  19. Misty

    Hello To All….Feeling for You All…Recently Married My Husband Had Been Deploye 3 times…Not Only HaS HiS Emotional Health Been Affected HiS Body Has Taken A Beating…Reading Through All The Comments I Learned A Few New Things….I ReadUp And Move Forward An Read UpsOme more…They Are A League Of There Own…To Boot We Are Combining Families And The 4 Kids Are With In 2 Yrs Of Each Otber…Lol…My 2 Are Very PersEptive His 2 Know No Difference With MyHusband Being The Onl Parent…Episodes Are About Every 4 Wks…Can Take Up To A Week To Come Back From It Completely…There Has Been Progress He Has Helped Me UnderTand As Well As Instructed Me Between Episodes…Change Really Throws Him Off..Me And MyKids Are busy…Trying To Slow Down A Bit To Le Him Adjust Some…Accupunture And Chiropracti Has Had Some Good Results….Any Suggestion On Keeping Positive Would Be Greatly Appreciated….

  20. Jonny

    If you really want to help whomever is going through this find what makes him or her happy. Typically it’s the smallest things that will brighten there day. A sandwich they like. A walk in the park. Where you first met or shared your first kiss. When these things are done over and over you’ll find that they will start to open up more and more and when they do open up be there. Non judgemental. Don’t respond unless there’s a question asked. Rub them hold their hand. Hug them. That’s all they need. Hope this helps somewhat. PTSD sufferer.

  21. Azure

    I have PTSD, and the biggest thing that would have helped me that no one did for me is to ask me directly, “What can I do to support you? What can I do to help you heal? I will do anything you need.” And then, whatever my answer was, they would need to immediately say, “Yes, absolutely, I will get behind you on that…happily!” I was afraid to ask for what I needed because I knew my parents wouldn’t understand and would shoot down my requests…and because of the pain I wasn’t able to speak about it at length to explain why I needed what I needed.

    Personally, what I needed was to get away from any reminders of the trauma…travel…and have the people around me be as hypervigilant as me, just waiting to intercept a triggering question on my behalf so that I wouldn’t have to answer it myself.

    For those whose PTSD is super acute, it may be too painful for them to tell you what they need, but perhaps they can write it or email it…for some reason that’s easier for me. I just can’t be fearful that the answer will be “no”, because that will increase the pain 10-fold, knowing my loved ones choose not to help in the way I need to be helped. (Even asking requires an immense amount of strength and courage, and to be shot down is a horrible feeling.)

  22. linda

    Thanks for this. I was discharged from the military over 30 yrs ago. Once at the VA hospital my doctor told me I had the worse case of PTSD he had ever seen. The reason I tell this is because I have improved so much. It is still a constant battle. But I am surviving. Lots of family and friends could not handle my condition (or just me) so they are not around. But I am still alive and doing better. Eventhough I am one who will never truelly recover, I have adapted. I have ups and downs just like everyoneelse. One thing that has help me and those around me is a way of looking at the mental wheelchair. If you are spending time with a wheel chair bound family member, you adapt. I look at it as my mental wheelchair that causes a need to adapt. Some can deal with friends and family with wheelchairs, some have difficulties. But it is really worth the effort to learn how to maneuver the wheelchair. We might have PTSD but we have a lot of love inside. We are worth the trouble.

  23. Winnie

    Excellent way of explaining, and nice post to get information onn the topic of my
    presentation topic, which i am going to deliver in institution of higher education.

  24. Cynthia

    Great article! A dear friend just revealed to me he has PTSD, and I really want to support him. This article and the comments have been very helpful

  25. Steve

    I have c ptsd for almost 50 yrs. course I don’t trust people,why would I after being abused by my father. Trust issues, not liking people getting in my space, loud people and being alone is easier but no fun after many years. most people have no empathy because they haven’t been in that situation and can’t consciously understand and many just don’t want the negitivity. I have flashbacks almost everyday, some days 5-10 by myself. personally don’t want to have them in front of people because I don’t believe their deserve to see my pain. not too many people really care about disabilities unless it’s them.

  26. Casa Palmera Staff

    Have you considered treatment for PTSD? There are programs that can help.

  27. Caley S

    I lived a calm and trauma free life for most of my life. However, In 2010 I was held hostage and tortured for over a year. When I got away there was no one to help me. I was my Dad’s only child. He died unexpectedly and he was my family. The left over family stragglers saw me as weak and injured, and decided this was their opportunity to steal my inheritance, personal accounts and property. This left me alone with no safe place to call home. This is a terrifying life. I have cried and screamed every day for the past six years. I finally took myself to a therapist who told me that I was brave and would be fine. I knew I was not close to fine. I was a counselor and worked with people in crisis. It is 2016 and I am finally angry with the people who violated me. It feels like the walls are coming down around me. I have not taken any medications for depression. I have been recovering from physical injuries. I had been left with a broken neck, broken ribs, and broken leg. One of the ribs was pushed into the artery to my heart and caused a subclavian aneurysm. I beat the odds and lived. I am not hitting the ground to take cover any longer, but I am very angry with the people who harmed me, I know PTSD is a life long battle.

  28. Val Littlewolf Heike

    My.older half sister took 3 years to force our intelligent mom from her home and her gay sister onto Elder Abuse(me). Every day moms.closer to death. Diana bullyied mom with lies so last March .Mom birthday gift was my name re.oved from moms will. Diana’s a narcississ shes poisioning our near 90 year old mom . Diana’s placing two fentenly a week on mom every three days.

    Diana killed mom and me. I’m not even allowed to show concern. When I do Diana tells who z ever I sent that I’m a bully and on Elder Abuse. I have r harmed anyone.

    Diana did many.things including starting our home on fire December 3rd 2014. Then sold moms belongings all the time allowing mom to thing she could return to Waukon. Mom had not been home for 2 years.

  29. Paul Montecalvo

    I have PTSD but i have no one to talk to or evwn help ive tried talking to my father but he belittles me im everyway. I constantly feel alone and cant really handle this. Im in a tougher spot now that i have walked away from them ive burnt every bridge i have and am now lost to my own thoughts and its npt good any help or advice would be great

  30. D

    I am so sorry that so many people are suffering. I have PTSD and have received counseling. It’s so hard to talk about and I feel so guilty for not being able to fully heal, and for pushing people away. I feel like I am hurting those who are close to me but I can’t fully explain what I need. I just want to stop feeling so damaged.

  31. Anonymous

    My girlfriend is traumatized for years. It has something to do with her grandma. When her grandma died, she was the only one who witnessed it. Until now, she’s taking the blame that its her fault thats why her grandma die. Most of the time she is triggered by this. Her mood will suddenly change and then she’ll start to remember that memory and its really affecting her so bad. Its almost like a trigger every time. I asked her if she wants to go in a therapy and she does not want to. I feel like the responsibility is in my hands. I wanna help her. I want to be there for her. What can I do? I want to stop the pain. I want to fix her. I wont let this affect her even more. I love her. Somebody tell me what can I do?