How to support someone with PTSD – part one

I have recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is an aptly named “disease” – though it is not a mental illness. It is a normal reaction to a traumatic life event.

It is also quite common in our society and something everyone should know at least a little bit about. If PTSD does not currently affect you, it may one day. But I can assure you there is someone in your life affected by it – even though you may not realize it. I suggest this article from Mayo Clinic to learn more about the condition itself.

I am quite blessed to have many supportive and caring people in my life who have asked me how they can help. Along the way, I have come up with a number of suggestions I would like to share:

  1. Be the kind of person they can turn to when times are tough.

The first step to “recovery,” finding that “new normal,” or resuming functionality after a traumatic incident is to get help – and this is a very big step. Unfortunately, our culture tends to look at people who seek help as “weak” or “incapable.” Even when we know in our heads this is not true, it can be difficult for one’s heart to get on the same page. We don’t want to burden the people we care about with our problems. But these are the very people who want to be there for us when we need someone to lean on.

So the first thing you can do to help someone with PTSD starts before they even face the inducing event – be the kind of person they can turn to when times are tough. This means being a good friend, family member, or simply a courteous associate. I’m not going to go into depth about what that entails, but at its core it means to be open to sharing your life with them in whatever ways your relationship allows. Whether that’s grabbing them coffee at work, graciously accepting an invitation for lunch, or just sharing the events of day-to-day life.

If there is someone in your life who is facing burdens they just can’t shoulder alone, they have probably already started the first step by telling you about what’s going on in their life. They may not come out and say it, but they need your help. They need your compassion and your caring. Often in times of crisis, there is also financial strain. But please remember – the most valuable assistance you can give comes not from your wallet, but from your heart.

Read Part Two
Read Part Three

Leave a comment


  1. shannonjust

     /  February 12, 2013

    I agree, emotional wounds are far more common and problematic than most people are comfortable admitting. It’s nice to see this kind of humility about this subject. Great post.

  1. How to support someone with PTSD (or social anxiety) – part three « Just One Take
  2. How to support someone with PTSD – part two « Just One Take

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