How to help a loved one struggling with PTSD

Updated on May 13, 2021

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition, often developed after witnessing a traumatic event or prolonged distressing experience, either historically or recently. There are dozens of different scenarios in which PTSD can develop, with the most common resulting from:

–          Surviving a car accident

–          Surviving sexual assault or rape

–          Experiencing psychological abuse

–          Experiencing physical/verbal abuse

–          Seeing others being hurt or killed

–          Surviving a disaster

–          Working in a role with exposure to violent or emotionally distressing scenarios e.g. a paramedic, doctor, police officer, soldier

–          Traumatic childbirth

–          A loved one dying in distressing circumstances

If someone you know that is suffering from PTSD has already sought help for their condition, then this is certainly a step in a positive direction – for PTSD treatment near me, click the link. It’s incredibly difficult to witness a loved one struggling with the symptoms of PTSD, however knowing how you can support them during this difficult time can help them manage their condition and enhance their wellbeing.

Let’s explore how you can help a loved one who is struggling with PTSD.


One of the simplest and most effective ways you can support a loved one with PTSD is by listening. Post-traumatic stress disorder can be incredibly complex, and just listening to your loved one discuss what has happened (if they wish), about how they’re feeling or even their current symptoms can make their struggle a little easier. Remember to avoid phrases such as “well, at least it’s over now”, “it could have been worse” or “at least you got off lightly”. These are dismissive and unhelpful. Let them feel upset or angry, and never pressure them into sharing more with you than they would like.

Understand their triggers

Triggers will vary from person to person. Depending on what your loved one has experienced in the past, anything from crying children to loud noises, closed-in spaces or areas near water could sudden trigger a crisis. The more you know about their symptoms and triggers, the more you’ll be able to support them.

Consider planning ahead

If your loved one is ready and willing to discuss things – remember, no pressure – it’s a good idea to have a chat about how you could help them, should a crisis arise. Ask them if there are certain symptoms you should be aware of or triggers that could spark a difficult moment for them. Find out how you can help them manage these triggers and symptoms, either by taking them to a place where they feel safe or working through some breathing exercises with them.

The more communicative you are, the more you’ll be able to help them. Even if they’re not ready to share these things with you, just offering support and being there can help them on the road to recovery.   

Final thoughts…

Supporting your loved one through their PTSD struggles is admirable, however over time it may begin to take its toll, so make sure you also have a strong support network around you so you can take care of yourself too. 

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