Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder. It occurs when a traumatic episode is experienced, for example, a natural disaster, or an accident or some form of abuse. Although symptoms may differ, commonly they include having recurrent nightmares, disturbance in sleeping pattern, fixation of thoughts, a rapid increase in heart rate, extreme anxiety levels, flashbacks, intense fear, excessive nervousness and more. It is crucial to seek help, as the symptoms may become severe. They can hamper day-to-day activities and can meddle with the person’s mind.
Before you help someone who is suffering from PTSD, you need to understand what it means, how it affects the person and the intensity of the situation. People suffering from this disorder feel like their control over life is slipping away.
Understanding PTSD and detecting it:
Try to learn and understand the disorder; it is the initial move towards recuperation. After a tragic event (assault, attack, accident, death of loved one) general reaction may include rage, anxiety, restlessness, fear and blame. For many people, these responses will blur after some time, but, for individuals with PTSD, these emotions may stay longer than a month. The emotions will last and even intensify after a period, hindering victims from progressing in their daily lives.
Learning about the disorder will help you generate empathy; gain a better understanding of the situation, and it can also eradicate the misconceptions that you may have.
Recognize the symptoms and learn what triggers:
People with PTSD are easily startled. They isolate themselves by avoiding social interactions. While the symptoms of PTSD are mostly the same, the intensity can differ. Most people show indications within a month after the traumatic event. However, there are different situations where the side effects do not show up until a long time later. A few people suffer from PTSD for a long span, while others can recover within a few months.
A trigger can be whatever that spikes a fear response in a person with PTSD, it tends to be something that to you is extremely general, however, it instigates an individual with PTSD to remember their past trauma. Everybody’s triggers are explicit to their encounters. Talk to the person about their specific trigger points. It could be loud noises, certain things, people, smell, taste, words, location and more. Understanding the triggers can help in avoiding or preventing a stressful situation.
(If a person is suffering from flashbacks: Remind them that it is a flashback. Ask them to describe their setting, try deep breathing technique, and avoid loud noises and sudden movements.)
Watch out for warning signs: a change in mood, an immediate withdrawal, change in eating or sleeping habits, lack of concentration, frequent outbursts can point towards something serious. Talk to them, it will acquaint you with the current situation of the person. It may also help the person to overcome the sudden change.
Provide social support
Social isolation and withdrawal are common symptoms. Your support and assistance can help the individual with PTSD to overcome sentiments of vulnerability, distress, and sadness. Research has confirmed that providing social support and love can help in the recovery process. People with PTSD perceive the world as a threatening place. Providing a safe environment for the person to cope can help in a speedy recovery. Spend time together and be a trusty presence in their life. Be the shoulder they can rest on.
A person with PTSD may find it difficult to talk about the traumatic incident. By pressuring the person, we can worsen the condition. The person may have flashbacks and it can cause them to remember the experience. When the person is prepared to share their emotions with you, they will. Listen to them when they are ready. Practice active listening; a portion of the things that the person may reveal can be difficult to tune in to, however, it is essential to regard their emotions and responses. Do not be judgemental; the person is already in a position of doubt.
People with PTSD are in a never-ending condition of mental and physical pressure that can prompt outbursts and breakdowns to everyday experiences. Some victims may use anger as an ego self-defence mechanism to protect themselves from feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Be gentle and try to understand their situation.
Seek professional help
It can be rather difficult to convince the victim to seek help. However, encourage the person to seek therapy by telling them the benefits of it. Give them their personal space, for some people, crowds and cramming can trigger a person’s memory. However, be there when they need you. Reduce stress at home, stay true to your words, highlight their positive qualities and encourage them to take the lead.
Be a ray of sunshine
Be a positive influence, keep your and the victim’s hope alive. Set out little tasks, by accomplishing these goals, a person may gain lost control. Treat them with unconditional positive regard. The situation may frustrate you, however, do not act on your anger it will make things worse.
Focus on yourself
Taking care of the person suffering from PTSD can drain you out. It can overwhelm you and can cause burnout. While disregarding your own needs, you create a recipe for burnout and since you are exposed to heavy and painful emotions, you may suffer from traumatic and negative thoughts.
Do not forget to focus on yourself. Eat properly, complete your sleep cycle and exercise. Know your limits; spend time with friends and family. Talk about your emotions and feelings. Take time to figure out your emotions.
PTSD can cause withdrawal and hesitation to talk about past events. Frequently, those with PTSD blame themselves and feel guilty about the situation. As you attempt to connect with them, be aware of making a non-judgemental, inquisitive, caring way to deal with posing inquiries about their experience or symptoms and attempt to deal with your feelings. Be patient, the journey to recovery is a long one. Provide love and support to the person, she/he needs it.
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