A blog post from More Ramblings of A Marine Wife provides ten tips on how to better understand veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The author offers tips on what to do, how to act, and how to help when you know someone suffering from PTSD.
- Educate yourself: Research the causes of PTSD, how it affects the brain, what could be a trigger, etc. The more you know, the more you can help.
- Be patient and understanding: Do not expect someone suffering from PTSD to simply get over it. PTSD is an emotional disorder developed through traumatic events. While PTSD can certainly develop after one traumatic event, veterans can easily have more than one traumatic event contributing to their PTSD.
- Understand they want help, even if they don’t ask for it: Asking for help isn’t easy for anyone. Many veterans also think that other veterans have it worse so they shouldn’t ask for help. If you know a vet suffering, remind them that their needs are valid too and offer assistance.
- Know that they have likely changed: Combat can change people. Certain personality traits or perspectives may be different. Be flexible.
- Recognize their mindset is different than ours: Vets with PTSD see threats and dangers in places that we see as everyday. Fear of crowds is a common trait for someone with PTSD since it is easier for someone to hide weapons within a crowd and harder to escape danger. This fear could dictate many of their actions, such as where they want to go and what they want to do.
- Don’t pressure: Let me know you are here to listen, but don’t pressure them to open up to you. That will likely take months or years. Often vets are afraid to talk to people for fear of judgment.
- Expect emotional turmoil: Don’t assume that their actions are because of you. If they aren’t telling you what is happening, it’s because they aren’t ready. Being a friend or being in a relationship with someone with PTSD is difficult. Prepare yourself for some hardships and try to explain your feelings without casting blame.
- Appreciate your impact: Having a support system, even if that system is just you, is crucial to someone with PTSD. Knowing that you are there for them helps immensely.
- Create your own support system: Being there for someone with PTSD is no easy task and it will take an emotional toll. Join a group or find someone to talk to about any issues you are having. It will give you a sense of community and greater understanding of PTSD.
- Remember they still love you: It is easy to feel disconnected from someone with PTSD, but remember that they still love you, even if they have a hard time showing it.