Coping with Trauma

PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as military combat, a hurricane, rape, physical abuse or a serious injury. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.

PTSD can cause problems such as:

  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • Feeling alone
  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad

PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later. PTSD can happen to anyone, even children.

Medicines can help you feel less afraid and tense. It might take a few weeks for them to work. Talking to a specially trained doctor or counselor also helps many people with PTSD.

How is PTSD treated?

The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk therapy”), medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.

If someone with PTSD is going through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship, both of the problems need to be treated. Other ongoing problems can include panic disorder, depression, substance abuse, and feeling suicidal.

How can I help a friend or relative who has PTSD?

If you know someone who has PTSD, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do to help a friend or relative is to help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment for your friend or relative and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment, or to seek different treatment if his or her symptoms don’t get better after 6 to 8 weeks.

To help a friend or relative, you can:

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Learn about PTSD so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing.
  • Talk to your friend or relative, and listen carefully.
  • Listen to feelings your friend or relative expresses and be understanding of situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms.
  • Invite your friend or relative out for positive distractions such as walks, outings, and other activities.
  • Remind your friend or relative that, with time and treatment, he or she can get better.

Never ignore comments about your friend or relative harming him or herself. Click here to learn about suicide prevention.


Source: National Institute of Mental Health