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How to Help Someone With PTSD: A Guide for Loved Ones

Updated: May 9

Living with or supporting a family member affected by Post-Traumatic Disorder (PTSD) is a heart-wrenching journey, laced with worries about flashbacks and the strain of treatment-resistant phases. But amidst this complex web of challenges, family support emerges as a pivotal beacon that can immensely influence the healing process. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how family can be a solid pillar of support, understanding, and love for someone grappling with PTSD.

Understanding PTSD

Before diving into support strategies, it’s essential to understand what PTSD entails. PTSD can stem from a traumatic event, leaving the person feeling persistently scared or stressed even in the absence of danger.

What Does PTSD Look Like?

Re-experiencing Traumas: This could mean flashbacks or nightmares where the person relives the event.

Avoidance: Staying away from places, people, or activities that are reminders of the trauma.

Increased Reactivity: This might include being easily startled, feeling tense, or having difficulty sleeping.

Recognizing these symptoms can be the first step toward providing thoughtful support.

Creating a Supportive Home Environment: 18 Ways to Support Someone With PTSD

how to help someone with ptsd

A healing atmosphere at home can serve as the cornerstone for managing PTSD.

1. Safe Spaces

Creating a physical space where the person feels safe and secure can be beneficial. This could be a particular room or a cozy nook that is regarded as their retreat.

2. Open Communications

Foster an environment where open communication is encouraged but without the pressure to speak. Sometimes, just knowing they can talk when ready is a relief for those affected.

3. Listening Actively and Patiently

Being a good listener involves more than hearing the words; it's about understanding the emotions behind them.

4. Validate Their Feelings

Acknowledging that their feelings are real and valid can help alleviate some of their emotional burdens.

5. Patience is Key

PTSD recovery can be slow and non-linear. Patience from family members can go a long way in building a supportive foundation.

6. Educating Yourself and Family Members

Learning about PTSD can demystify many behaviors associated with the disorder.

7. Workshops and Online Resources

Engage in workshops or online courses that can educate about the nuances of PTSD. Knowledge can transform empathy into effective assistance.

8. Mental Health Professionals

Consulting with therapists and counselors can give insights into how best to support your loved one while also taking care of your own mental health.

9. Establishing Routine and Normalcy

A predictable routine can provide comfort and a sense of control.

10. Daily Activities

Help integrate simple, routine activities they can partake in, which can divert their mind and bring about moments of joy.

11. Encourage Independence

While the urge to protect is natural, encouraging independence can build confidence and contribute to recovery.

12. Managing Crises and Flashbacks

During a PTSD flashback, the individual may feel like they are reliving the traumatic experience. Handling this sensitively is crucial.

13. Recognize the Signs

Learn to identify the onset of a flashback so you can act swiftly to help mitigate it.

14. Stay Calm and Present

Use calm, reassuring language and assure them that they are safe. Sometimes, just being there is enough.

15. Leveraging Professional Help

Sometimes, professional intervention is essential, especially for treatment-resistant PTSD.

16. Regular Therapy

Encourage consultations with therapists who specialize in PTSD. Therapy types like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) might be suggested.

17. Peer Support Groups

Joining groups where they can discuss experiences with others who understand can offer fresh perspectives and coping mechanisms.

18. Celebrate Small Victories

Every small step forward is monumental. Celebrating these can reinforce positive development and motivate further progress.


Supporting a family member with PTSD demands patience, love, and understanding. It’s a journey fraught with challenges yet filled with opportunities for growing closer and stronger as a family. As you navigate this path, remember that small actions can make a big difference. With the right support, recovery isn't just a possibility; it’s a pathway that’s illuminated by the collective strength and compassion of family.



Author: Josh Brar

Author - Josh Brar

Hello, I'm Josh Brar. My journey includes over 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, which took an unexpected path in my 40s due to my struggle with treatment-resistant depression. Leveraging my pharmaceutical background, I gained extensive knowledge about mental disorders. Despite exploring numerous treatments, the challenge of finding relatable information and community support was significant. This inspired me to establish this platform, with the aspiration of it being a helpful resource for others on similar paths.


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