How to Support Someone with PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. While commonly associated with military combat, PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced trauma, such as violence, abuse, accidents, or natural disasters. It manifests through a range of symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance behaviors, and mood disturbances.

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Recognizing the Symptoms of PTSD

To effectively support someone with PTSD, it’s crucial to recognize the common symptoms and manifestations of the disorder. These may include:

  • Intrusive Memories: Recurrent and distressing memories, flashbacks, or nightmares related to the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance: Avoidance of people, places, or activities that remind them of the trauma.
  • Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood: Persistent negative beliefs, distorted thoughts, feelings of guilt or shame, and a diminished interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Hyperarousal: Hypervigilance, irritability, difficulty concentrating, exaggerated startle response, and sleep disturbances.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Open and Non-Judgmental Communication

Establishing open and non-judgmental communication is essential when supporting someone with PTSD. Here are some key strategies:

  • Active Listening: Practice active listening skills to fully understand their experiences and emotions.
  • Empathy: Show empathy and validate their feelings without minimizing or dismissing their experiences.
  • Non-Verbal Support: Use non-verbal cues such as nodding and maintaining eye contact to convey understanding and support.

Respect for Boundaries and Triggers

Respecting the individual’s boundaries and triggers is crucial for creating a safe and supportive environment. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Ask for Consent: Always ask for consent before engaging in discussions about their trauma or participating in potentially triggering activities.
  • Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about common PTSD triggers and learn to recognize signs of distress.
  • Be Flexible: Be flexible and accommodating to their needs, even if it means adjusting plans or activities.

Practical Support and Assistance

Providing practical support and assistance can help alleviate stress and facilitate the individual’s recovery process. Consider the following strategies:

  • Assistance with Daily Tasks: Offer to help with household chores, errands, or other responsibilities to reduce their burden.
  • Accompaniment to Therapy Sessions: Accompany them to therapy sessions or support groups if they feel comfortable and supported.
  • Encouragement of Self-Care: Encourage them to engage in self-care activities such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and hobbies that promote well-being.

Encouraging Professional Help and Treatment

While your support is invaluable, encouraging the individual to seek professional help and treatment is essential for long-term recovery. Here’s how you can approach this sensitive topic:

  • Normalize Therapy: Normalize the idea of therapy and emphasize its effectiveness in treating PTSD symptoms.
  • Provide Resources: Offer information about local mental health resources, therapists specializing in trauma, and support groups.
  • Offer Assistance: Offer practical assistance such as helping them schedule appointments or providing transportation if needed.

Understanding the Challenges of Recovery

It’s important to understand that recovery from PTSD is a complex and non-linear process. Here are some key considerations:

  • Patience and Understanding: Be patient and understanding as the individual navigates their journey to recovery. Avoid placing pressure on them to “get better” quickly.
  • Respect Autonomy: Respect the individual’s autonomy and decision-making process. Allow them to take ownership of their recovery.
  • Normalize Setbacks: Normalize setbacks and relapses as part of the recovery process. Offer support and encouragement during difficult times.

Taking Care of Yourself as a Support Person

Supporting someone with PTSD can be emotionally demanding, so it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being. Here are some self-care strategies:

  • Set Boundaries: Set clear boundaries to protect your own mental and emotional health. Recognize when you need to take a step back and prioritize self-care.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist for support and guidance. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
  • Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation, stress relief, and overall well-being. Take time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate.

Call Us Today!

By implementing these strategies and offering unwavering support, you can play a significant role in helping your loved one manage their PTSD symptoms and work towards a healthier, more fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact 12 South Recovery at 866-257-5551 to learn more about our comprehensive treatment programs and support options.


At 12 South Recovery, we aim to help restore balance to every area of life – treating the mind, body and spirit so our clients are able to find lasting recovery from addiction and other co-occurring disorders. Our unique Treatment Programs aim to address both addiction and the underlying causes.

Contact 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876 today.

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