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Being the Best Friend to Someone with PTSD.

by Frederick Akinola
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Years ago, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was studied primarily in connection with military veterans. Consequently, it was usually referred to as shell shock or combat fatigue. Today, you don’t have to be a soldier to be diagnosed with PTSD. You only have to be a survivor of or have been exposed to a traumatic event.

An event which involved some type of actual or threatened physical injury or assault.  It could be war, a rape attempt, or a car accident.  PTSD has turned out to be a very common disorder.

Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress

Many trauma survivors find themselves re-experiencing the trauma in their minds. Additionally, survivors usually can’t control this or stop it from occurring. The effects may include flashbacks, bad dreams and nightmares, and a tendency to be very startled by loud noises or by someone unexpectedly coming up to them from behind. Similarly, you may experience trouble breathing], a feeling of upset when reminded of the trauma by something seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted, anxiety or fear—the feeling of being in danger again, trouble controlling emotions because reminders lead to sudden anxiety, anger, or upset. Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly and difficulty falling or staying asleep are also common occurrences. Many people are also suffering from this experience.  How can you help if one of the sufferers is a friend?

Consult with a Competent Health Professional

It may turn out that the sufferer doesn’t have PTSD, but if he or she does, effective therapies exist. If a friend or loved one is suffering from these experiences, you can help them get professional help. Oftentimes, it can be difficult for them to seek help on their own. If you are aware they are receiving professional help, be honest with them but be kind. Ask them if they need your help in any way and don’t be afraid to hold them accountable. This will help them overcome any of the above behaviours.

Encourage Them

Don’t hold back from encouraging the sufferer. If you have a loved one dealing with the horrible memory of some traumatic event, understand that he or she is not overreacting or deliberately being difficult. Because of emotional numbness, anxiety, or anger, he or she may not be able to respond as you would wish to the efforts you are making to be supportive

Help Them to Recognize and Avoid Unwise Coping Strategies That Cause Further Harm

These include the use of illicit drugs and overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. Although alcohol and drugs may give promise temporary relief, they soon make matters worse. They usually contribute to social isolation, rejection of the people who want to help, workaholics, uncontrolled anger, uncontrolled or over-controlled eating, or other self-destructive behaviour.

If you feel emotionally paralyzed, remember that others have felt that way too. Those who have overcome such feelings are usually glad to assist others.


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