Here is How to Help Someone With PTSD


A lot of people feel stuck with unwanted feelings which bring them pain and become a reminder of past trauma. How to get rid of them? Follow this article to learn how to help someone with PTSD.

What is PTSD?

how to help someone with ptsd

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is different than other traumatic experiences. In order to know how to help, it is important to know what PTSD is.

The experiences after a traumatic event we face are often sad, sometimes they trigger anxiety and fear. But if this phase doesn’t go away with time then it is possible that you are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD often develops when certain events threatens one’s safety and mental health. People who encounter rape, harassment, military combat, or some other trauma that leaves a long lasting impact, are prone to PTSD.

An event, or series of events, which makes us overwhelmed with self destructive feelings and leaves us emotionally threatened, triggers PTSD. People who experienced events which are traumatic or maybe witnessed the event fall prey to PTSD. People can also get affected later, when they realize what happened afterwards.

Seeking for treatment, knowing new coping skills, reaching out for support can help reduce the pain and to manage and move on with life. And as a loved one, you should learn how to help someone with PTSD so that you can support them.

What Are The Causes Of PTSD?

how to help someone with ptsd
Stress during PTSD.

Without jumping on how to help someone with PTSD, knowing the difference between PTSD and a normal response to trauma is very much important.

The reaction of the nervous system while experiencing a stressful or shocking event causes breakdown. The heart beats faster with the rise in blood pressure and tightening of muscles. The nervous system calms after the danger has passed, calming your mind and body.

PTSD on the other hand occurs when someone experiences too much of stress in a particular situation, engaging in an everlasting trauma and not being able to move on from the situation.

How To Know If Someone Has PTSD?

how to help someone with ptsd
You are not alone.

Development of PTSD is different for everyone because of the difference in tolerance of stress and the nervous system. The symptoms can develop within few hours or days following the event. Sometimes it can even take months or years to show the symptoms. At times, the symptoms show up all of a sudden. It can trigger the revival of the traumas by certain words, photos or maybe a noise.

It can be difficult to figure out the symptoms, so here are 4 types of symptoms which are very common among people with PTSD.

  1. Getting face-to-face with the same event through nightmares, flashbacks, or maybe by physical reactions during the trauma.
  2. Irritation for prolonged period, insomnia, hypertension, hyper arousal, aggressive, self-destructive motives or behavioral issues.
  3. Avoiding anything that reminds you of past trauma, losing interest in activities, numbing of emotions, cutting off contacts with friends and family.
  4. Mood swings and emergence of negative thoughts shatter the inner wellbeing; feeling lonely, depressed, betrayed, feeling guilty, difficult in concentrating.

PTSD symptoms in young children can differ from adults. They may include:

  • Facing nightmares and sleep deprivation.
  • Fearing of separation from parents.
  • Expressing out the trauma through drawings, play and stories.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Anxieties unrelated to the trauma.
  • Pains and aches without actual cause.

Risks of PTSD

It’s impossible to find out who will respond to trauma and develop PTSD. But there are certain factors that can increase the risk of vulnerability. The risk factors revolve around the trauma itself.

Severe threats endangering personal safety are more likely to cause PTSD. Extreme and prolonged threats like rape, torture, assault or maybe accidents and natural disasters. Other factors include:

  • Series of sexual or physical assault
  • Traumatic experiences in early life.
  • Family history of depression.
  • Being abused.
  • Being diagnosed with other mental illnesses.

Types and Varieties of PTSD

Traumatic events and PTSD symptoms can be distressing experiences including childhood abuse or neglect, military combat, an accident, racism, violence, natural disaster, etc.

Psychological or Emotional Trauma

If you experience an event or series of events which are extremely stressful and leave you emotionally unstable and helpless, you have a high chance of being traumatized.

As PTSD is a mental disorder, all kind of traumas often relate to childhood incidents like domestic abuse or bullying, or maybe at any age like death of a loved one, relationship abuse, humiliation.

All these traumas can be built up from incidents from the past. Just know that you can always feel safe again and move on with your life. You are free as a bird if you allow yourself to be.

Here are some self care tips if you need an assistance.

Traumas Related to Military Combat

Military veterans returning from the service have a hard time dealing with PTSD. They have to go through a lot to adjust with present life out of the service.

Loss of a friend in a crossfire or witnessing a bomb blast where a lot of people died, can result in triggers such as nightmares of deadly encounters or getting easily startled by loud noise. They can be devastating to one’s mind and cause guilt and depression.

It’s important to know that what you are going through is temporary. In order to cope with past trauma, one must seek professional help and talk to family and friends.

Watch a soldier’s life after he leaves the service and go through serious traumas in the film American Sniperstarring Bradley Cooper.

Physical Harassment or Rape Trauma

Traumatic events of being raped or physically harassed can be devastating to one self, leaving the individual feeling scared and unsafe. This affects future romantic relationships as well, and can result in severe trust issues. In such situations, one must talk to a therapist, or consult a professional who specializes in dealing with survivors.

It can be hard to reach out to loved ones, especially if they aren’t supportive. But if you feel ready, you should talk to someone you trust and love. No matter how bad you feel, you should know that you are not the one to blame. You are more than this isolated incident and it does not have the power to define you or your life.

Race Based Trauma

Racism exists as a problem still in society. The exposure of race based discrimination can lead to individuals questioning their own self-worth. Since racism hampers opportunities, lifestyle, even relationships, it can leave a long lasting effect and lead to depression, irregular eating habits, high blood pressure, and mental health issues.

How To Help Someone With PTSD?

how to help someone with ptsd
Gatherings with friends.

Getting rid of PTSD doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a slow and gradual process. Keep in mind that memories from the traumas do not disappear completely. However, that still doesn’t mean that they will always accompany you and haunt you. You are strong enough to overcome it, and in order to get there, the most important step is asking for help.

Hence, there are many steps you can choose to know how to help someone with PTSD.

Support Them

When someone is going through a trauma, they isolate themselves from friends and family in fear of judgement.

Learning to know how to help someone with PTSD can help get rid of the isolation. Try to listen to them by spending time and make them comfortable around you so that they know you care.

Be gentle with them, don’t give pressure to the person for sharing things when they are not ready. Make them feel that you are trustworthy and reliable to them.

Listen To Them

Listening to someone who is going through PTSD is one of the best therapies. Also keep in mind that one must not pressurize them into talking. Remain calm and let them be comfortable with you first.

Don’t compare your feelings and thoughts with them. That means you don’t have mention that “I can understand what you are going through” or “Even I was dealing with the same thing”. Be their support system and let them know their issues are valid. It can be the best way to know how to help someone with PTSD.

Respect Them

Respect is a part of helping a person with PTSD as people mistakenly or sometimes intentionally belittle the experiences they have.

Don’t make your friend or family member feel weak as saying anything negative can break their trust in you.

Know What Triggers Them

A trigger could be anything that can take back someone to the trauma. Something ordinary to you could be terrible to someone else.

Talk to person who is suffering from PTSD, learn about their triggers and help them find ways to avoid them. Few common triggers could be sounds, weather, locations, etc.

Educate and Encourage Them For Treatment Options

Sometimes it is out of your hands to help someone cope with PTSD. And even if you love them, you may not be equipped enough to help someone get through a trauma. Let them know about treatment options such as therapy. Don’t force them though. Make them understand how much they need it, and let them know that asking for help does not make them weak. Consulting a health professional can really be an effective treatment option.

Here is a link to know more about how to help someone with PTSD.


It takes a lot of time and effort to overcome from post traumatic stress disorder.

Life can be difficult in those times but remind yourself or someone close to you who is going through PTSD, to develop strength not alone but with everyone around you to help get through these tough times.

It is your duty, especially as a loved one, to know how to help someone with PTSD. First learn what is it that is haunting them. Let them join a PTSD group discussion to help gain strength and not feel that they are alone. It is important to find a non-stressful hobby which will engage them to a certain extent.

Accept the past. It can help you move on. We all hide our dark sides knowing that will humiliate us. This is not the end. You will rise again.

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Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 



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