How to help a person suffering from post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress disorder and its directly associated disorder, PTSD, are problems that arise after going through a very stressful experience. Whether it is a rape, a terrorist attack, a plane crash or anything like that, the person is marked for life.

There are disorders related to PTSD and other anxiety disorders, but in addition to professional help, the circle of family, friends and other loved ones can help improve or at least prevent the worsening of. the state of health of those affected by this problem.

Below we will find out how to help someone with post-traumatic stress, In addition to also seeing how we can take care of ourselves to prevent the disorder of the loved one from ending up taking a toll on our mental health.

    How to help a person suffering from post-traumatic stress?

    Many people can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after suffering or witnessing a highly traumatic event, such as rape, kidnapping, plane crash, being abused … Anyone who suffers from this disorder relives the traumatic event again and againAs this left a deep mark on him. Although this new experience or “flashback” is only in your mind and cannot hurt you anymore, the feelings of anxiety, anxiety, out of control and fear are terribly real.

    People with PTSD have a very poor quality of life and are more likely to suffer from other disorders, especially depression. For this reason, prompted by the worry and desire for healing of the person suffering from this stress, his immediate environment tries to do everything possible to bring him to recovery, although on many occasions he ends up. also by suffering from stress. The discomfort of the person with PTSD ends up harming those around him.

    But it’s not all stress. People with post-traumatic stress disorder can change their mood very suddenly, become aggressive, unwilling to leave the house, be afraid of the outside world, and meet other people. In many cases, it becomes difficult to live well with them and their loved ones no longer know what else to do or how to help them. They are strapped for resources, and frustration and helplessness overwhelm them when they see that their efforts are wasted.

    Fortunately, we have a number of tips that can teach us how to help someone with post-traumatic stress disorder. It should be understood that not everyone has to work and that professional help from psychologists and doctors is always necessary and recommended. However, the family environment, friends and other loved ones, as supportive characters that they are, can facilitate the healing process of the loved one, increase their well-being, and improve family relationships.

    Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

    We cannot help someone with post-traumatic stress disorder without knowing what the disorder is or how it manifests. After going to a psychologist to confirm that our loved one suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, this professional will tell us what the main symptoms of this disorder are and what their evolution is. The most common symptoms are as follows:

    • Avoid places and / or people associated with the traumatic event.
    • Recurring thoughts or memories about the traumatic event.
    • Catastrophic thoughts on all kinds of situations.
    • Constant nightmares about the traumatic event or similar events.
    • Forget some important details of the traumatic event.
    • Sleep problems: insomnia, sudden awakenings …
    • Aggression towards others: insulting, assaulting, hitting objects …
    • Self-harm: self-harm, drug addiction, risky behavior …
    • Stop doing things you used to love.
    • Panic attacks.
    • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

    What can I do to help?

    It should be understood that the healing process of our beloved will largely depend on whether he goes to a professional and whether he is doing his part, In addition to various contextual factors. However, as family, friends and partner, we can help you in your improvement process, we must always understand that no matter how well our help is intended, we must remember that not everything we do will help you. and even, we run the risk of making it worse.

    For this reason, it is very important to follow the following tips which will help us to help our loved one and to avoid actions which, even if we do it with their good in mind, the only thing they will do will hinder their improvement.

    1. Inform in detail

    You can’t help someone with PTSD without knowing what it is. In addition to the symptoms we saw in the previous section, post-traumatic stress can manifest itself in several ways. You need to know what the treatment options are and if there are help groups in the area.

    Knowing about cases of celebrities who suffer from it, like Lady Gaga or Ariana Gran, can help to better understand the disorder, because the more visibility it has through a celebrity, the more awareness is raised.

    The best weapon against this problem is to be informed, which implies to the person that we have spent time trying to better understand what is happening to them and that we want to do everything possible to improve it.

    2. Pick a time to speak

    We will only be able to understand the person with PTSD by talking to them directly, Although we cannot do this anytime or anywhere. We need to choose a time and place where there are no distractions or interruptions.

    Once these conditions are met, it will be up to you to let him speak. Expressing and talking about what is happening to someone is always very helpful in recovering from any problem, both a medical illness and a disorder, because while it is not therapy in and of itself, the feeling you have been heard and cared for. well-being and calm.

    It is very important that when the person with PTSD talks to us about their feelings, we avoid any urge to question their suffering, make assumptions, give free advice, or say an “I know what”. You feel”. If we don’t have post-traumatic stress disorder, we won’t know how he feels.

    Another very important point is that we don’t need to press it. If you are not ready or willing to speak at the moment, it is best to leave him alone. Either way, we have to tell him and make him understand that what we want is to help him, to know what he feels and when he wants it and to feel more prepared to speak than he can. count on us.

      3. make plans with him

      Many people with mental disorders isolate themselves from their surroundings and, in turn, their loved ones are gradually putting aside the fact that they are not encouraged to do as much as before. This withdrawal also occurs with post-traumatic stress disorder, and it only worsens the disorder..

      For this reason, as the emotional support that we are, we need to make plans with him or her, try not to feel abandoned and see if he is encouraged to do the things he or she loved to do before. Any activity is valid: going for a walk, cycling, painting, seeing wild flowers …

      The idea of ​​doing all of this is that in addition to feeling like he is still part of the world, he activates himself and gradually shows interest in doing things for himself, returning to his old hobbies. time, feeling that life is worth living.

      however, do not insist too much on the beginning, Especially if you totally refuse to do an activity at the moment. This is completely normal, he always begins his path to recovery. We can motivate subtly, with little mundane things. Do it too suddenly will only lock you in more and feel worse.

      4. Encourage contact with family and friends

      As we discussed in the previous point, it often happens that people with disorders, and in particular PTSD and other anxiety disorders, end up isolating themselves, moving away from loved ones as family and close friends. Other times, it is these people who end up leaving it out because in many cases the patient struggles to do their part.

      Isolation is the worst thing that can happen to a person, especially if they have a mental disorder as severe as PTSD. As loved ones and a large part of your world that we are now we must make an effort ourselves to stay in touch with others, making him see that he is still a loved one and that there aren’t a few people who care about him or her.

      5. Tolerance and patience

      We must be tolerant and patient. People who suffer from this type of setback often find themselves very inconstant and overly irritated, even over things that may seem like trifles. It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s not that they do it on a whim: it’s a symptom of their mental disorder. We shouldn’t take this as a personal thing and we should try to keep our cool.

      6. Alert: suicide

      If the person explicitly says they want to die, they behave in a way that makes us think they could have committed suicide or they confessed to us that they had fantasized about the idea that suicide alerts should be activated. We must not lose our temper, but we must act quickly for what may happen.

      It is essential to avoid leaving the person alone. If she lives alone, we should consider spending time at her house to make sure nothing happens and that if she does, call the emergency room before it’s too late. Being at home, we can eliminate any potentially dangerous object: pills, knives, ropes, firearms, detergents …

      Some useful resources in the event of a suicide attempt:

      Telephone of hope: 91459 00 55 – 717,003,717 Fondation GO: 900 20 20 10 Telephone against suicide: 911 385 385 Telephone against the Swiss in Barcelona: 900 92 55 55

      7. Start of therapy

      All of the above tips are very helpful and should be taken into account when we have a loved one with PTSD; however, we have to assume that the person will not make a significant recovery unless they receive professional help. It is for this reason that he must be motivated to undertake psychological therapy and, if necessary, medical.

      Going to therapy and receiving adequate emotional support from family and friends will speed up the healing process for our loved one with PTSD. The evaluation and advice that the psychologist will do, in addition to ruling out any medical problem likely to aggravate the disorder, are essential in defining the course of the disorder.

      To encourage him to start therapy, we can accompany him to his appointments with the psychologist and the doctor.. The first session is usually a little scary but if we accompany it you will be less afraid, which will facilitate your attachment to the therapy. It’s also a way to show that we support you and want you to recover.

      How to deal with anger or violent behavior?

      Witnessing a highly traumatic event changes us completely. A calm, pleasant, and kind person can become aggressive, taciturn, and depressed after experiencing a terrorist attack or rape. The psychological suffering is so great that the personality and behavior change drastically. Many times the person pays for the suffering with their immediate environment, both verbally and physically, but no matter how much we suffer, we do not deserve or should not endure this treatment.

      It is common for people with PTSD to experience anger, a completely normal reaction to trauma.But this can ruin family relationships and make help very difficult. This emotion can scare us, thinking that he has become a real monster and that he is going to hurt us or he is going to hurt himself. We must act quickly.

      If the anger causes him to behave aggressively and tries to hurt us, no matter how cruel and serious the event he has been, we can’t help but do nothing. We need to protect ourselves, our loved ones and also those who suffer from PTSD on their own. If we see that he begins to behave aggressively, we will have to go to a safe place, seek help immediately, and if we need to resort to emergencies, we will have to. Our physical integrity comes first.

      How to take care of yourself

      Of course, wanting to help others is great, especially if they are going through something as bad as PTSD, however, we cannot think of others earlier than ourselves. It often happens that when we want to help a loved one very closely, we end up forgetting our own well-being. We cannot help others if we are not well or help ourselves. Then we will see how to take care of ourselves, preventing the stress of others from hurting us.

      1. The fault is not ours

      Many feel guilty when they see their loved one with PTSD not improving. They think they have everything at hand to improve the health of their loved one or friend, which is not the case. As much as we strive, for a person with PTSD to improve depends on many factors, including their own willpower, psychotherapy, and contextual factors that are not under anyone’s control. If it doesn’t improve, the blame is not ours.

      2. Seek support from family and friends

      Just as family and friends need to help the person with PTSD, they also need to help each other. When building an emotional support network, don’t just think about the well-being of those affected by PTSD, But also throughout the structure. Family and friends help each other, listen to each other, and learn to unload what you are about to help your loved one who has a psychological problem.

      3. Make time for yourself

      Each of us has a life and we must live it. Spending time on yourself is essential for good health. Yes, we will need to spend time with our loved one with PTSD and he or she should know that we will be there for what he or she needs, but we also have the right to have fun, to be who we are, to invest time. in the most important person in our life: ourselves.

      You shouldn’t feel bad because you are having a good time and the person affected by post-traumatic stress should not. Whether we are having a good time or a bad time, he or she will remain the same. Feeling good is not putting her aside, putting her aside, it is ignoring her, not wanting to listen to her or forgetting her in a corner while she is in pain. If we’ve already paid attention to him and he knows we’ll be there for what he needs when he needs them, what reason is there not to continue living our lives?

      4. Maintain good habits

      It is very common that due to the wear and tear it causes to help a person with PTSD, we end up neglecting our health habits. It may happen that we eat junk food, quick to make and that we dock every now and then. In other cases, the reverse is true, you eat less. It is very common to stop playing sports.

      The saying is already classic: a healthy mind in a healthy body. We cannot enjoy complete mental health if we do not maintain good health habits. We must eat well, adopt a healthy and varied diet that covers all energy and nutritional needs, as well as exercise with a certain frequency.

      Playing sports will give us vitality, optimism and increase our mood, which is a protective factor against stress that can “infect” the person we are caring for. Take a walk 30 minutes a day is enough to be able to enjoy the benefits of moderate exercise, so why not do it?

      5. Go to the psychologist

      Going to the psychologist is not just for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Just like we go to the dentist to make sure we don’t have cavities or we go to the doctor to have a checkup and rule out any disease, we need to go to the psychologist to make sure everything is okay.

      Granted, that can be worked around, but not unless you’re a techie who knows what he’s doing. It’s uncomfortable going to the psychologist the first time and thinking that they can find “something” for us is unpleasant, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? If we are well, then fantastic. If we have a problem, it is better to learn how to deal with it so that we can become the best version of ourselves. and be able to fully enjoy our life.


      Helping someone with post-traumatic stress disorder is an ongoing and complex process that takes a lot of patience and tolerance. Everyone is different, and their form and rate of recovery can vary greatly. Friends, family, and other loved ones can be an important emotional support that can be of great help in getting through treatment and feeling better. Receiving support from the immediate environment helps to heal.

      Learning about post-traumatic stress, seeing a psychologist, avoiding suicide attempts and encouraging the person to activate are key actions throughout the process. We must also think for ourselves, because we cannot help anyone if we are not in all our faculties.. Trying to improve someone’s life without improving ours first will make all of our effort and performance a fruitless process.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
      • World Health Organization (1992). International Classification of Diseases and Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Geneva, Switzerland.
      • Morales Rodríguez, PP, Medina Amor, JL, Gutiérrez Ortega, C., Abejaro de Castro, LF, Hijazo Vicent, LF and Losantos Pascual, RJ (2016). Disorders related to trauma and stressors in the medical advice of psychiatric experts of the Spanish military health. Military Health, 72 (2), 116-124.
      • Bisson, J .; and. at. (2019). The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New guidelines for the prevention and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: methodology and developmental process. Traumatic Stress Journal. 32 (4): pages 475 to 483.
      • Gillies, D .; Taylor, F .; Gray, C .; O’Brien, L .; D’Abrew, N. (2012). Psychological therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents. The Cochrane Systematic Review Database. 12: CD006726.
      • Waltman, SH; Shearer, D .; Moore, BA (2018). Management of post-traumatic nightmares: review of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments since 2013. Current psychiatric reports. 20 (12): 108.

      Leave a Comment