How can I help a loved one with PTSD?

If someone you care about has PTSD, it can affect you too.  Your loved one with PTSD may have symptoms that interfere with your relationship and family life.  If your loved one has PTSD, you may also be coping with these difficult feelings:

  • Feeling depressed or angry about the changes in your relationship with them.

  • Becoming fearful if your loved one is angry or aggressive.

  • Being reluctant to talk about the trauma or avoiding situations that might upset your loved one.

  • Feeling like you’re walking on eggshells.

  • Feeling angry or resentful toward your loved one.

  • Being tired from sleep problems because of worry, depression or because of your loved one’s sleep problems.

  • Feeling isolated if your partner refuses to socialize.

  • Experiencing emotional distance from your partner.

If you recognize these emotions in yourself, or the symptoms of PTSD in a loved one, there are things you can do to help.  The first is to take care of yourself. The second is to talk with your loved one about what they are feeling and – if they will open up to you – begin a conversation about how they can get help for their PTSD.

The stress of PTSD can affect family members and friends.  If PTSD is affecting your family or your relationship, consider contacting a mental health professional for individual, couples, or family counseling to work through the therapy options that are available to you in your area.  Through counseling, you can get the help you and your family needs to cope and support each other.  For a referral to local services, contact your local Mental Health America affiliate.

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