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Helping a Veteran Who Has PTSD

Friends and loved ones have an important part in easing a veteran back to normal day-to-day life. Usually, people who are close to the veteran will be the first to notice if there are any problems.

If you love someone who is going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), know that they can be treated for this condition and that you can help them get through it. It has been done many times before, with spouses, partners, family members and friends all contributing to their loved one’s success in overcoming their PTSD-related challenges.

Below are five ways you can support a veteran with PTSD:

1. Be prepared to help.

The first realistic thing you can do to help a loved one with PTSD is to know that what they’re dealing with is beyond them. So if you feel like they’re being so touchy or volatile, just understand where they’re coming from and don’t make it worse. If you must do most of the chores at home, do so. Unless you can rise above the situation, you can never help a person with PTSD.

2. Know what treatment options are available.

Counseling and medication are two established approaches for treating PTSD. In recent years, researchers have deepened their understanding of why PTSD occurs and what can be done to treat it. The more familiar you are about the subject, the more you can help your loved one’s situation.

3. Encourage your loved one to talk with other veterans in a similar position.

Seek support from your local VA, where you can make arrangements for your loved one to attend counseling with Peer Specialists, with the family or in group therapy sessions. A Peer Specialist is someone with a mental health condition who has received training and certification that enables them to help others dealing with their own mental issues. Just connect with your local VA and they will help you explore options and resources.

4. Hire a coach.

Yes, you can bring in a professional coach who can help your loved one through the entire ordeal, and in some cases, this can even be offered for free. It’s not easy to have a family member with the disorder talk about his thoughts and feelings, but this is something an expert will know exactly how to do. Such coaches are knowledgeable, trained and experienced, so they can usually elicit positive responses from veterans with the disorder.

5. Encourage self-help.

Finally, try to encourage your loved one to maintain a few general self-care practices in their day-to-day routine. For instance, you can acquaint them with PTSD self-help tools, like mobile apps that teach how to handle symptoms. Self-care gives people a feeling of being in control, and that is something these veterans need to re-learn slowly but surely.

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