Over the last year, many organisations and people started talking about the importance of looking after our mental health. We all became familiar with the words anxiety, grief and depression. But, something that people do not talk about enough is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Any emotional or psychological trauma can trigger PTSD. Generally, stressful events, such as a violent attack or sexual assault, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or even a horrible accident, can cause PTSD. Many people erroneously believe that only a single event, such as war, can trigger the disorder. Sometimes, continued stress, such as being the victim of ongoing domestic abuse or even bullying, can cause PTSD. The severity of PTSD symptoms can increase over time, so it’s crucial to identify PTSD and deal with it as early as possible.
If you’re living with somebody who might be high risk, you should look for early warning signs, such as:
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves from loved ones
- Using substances such as alcohol or narcotics after having quit or avoided them for a while
- Any deliberate self-harm
- Binge-eating or the complete loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
If you notice these symptoms, you must speak to your loved one and try and get them help as soon as possible. PTSD is a serious concern and should only be treated by qualified psychologists and psychiatrists.
Along with professional help, there are a few things that you can do at home to help them get through the difficult time. Remember, people with PTSD often feel ashamed and do not want to talk about what’s happening. Instead, they feel stuck and often relive the trauma over and over. You can help by following these steps:
Keep Talking to a Minimum
You must not pressure the person into talking about the event or events that cause PTSD. If you do, you might cause them to relive everything. Instead, let them know you’re there if they want to talk. You should also make them feel loved and accepted.
Do Normal Things
If you can, engage with your loved one in ways that have nothing to do with their PTSD. Help them find a hobby that brings them joy. Or, you can help them stay active by becoming their workout buddy.
Let Them Show You What They Need
Every individual is different. So, you shouldn’t assume what worked for one person will work for another. Let your loved one tell you what they need from you. They have a better idea of what makes them feel loved, safe and accepted.
While you’re helping your loved one, there are a few things you need to avoid. Do not:
- Assure them that everything is going to be okay – this may not be true.
- Stop them from telling you about their fears and feelings.
- Tell them what you think they should do.
- Blame their PTSD for other problems in your life.
- Invalidate or deny their feelings about the event.
- Make demands, give ultimatums or make threats.
The coronavirus pandemic caused massive loss of life. Many people we know today may be struggling to cope and may show signs of PTSD. If you can, reach out to them and help them. But remember that you are not a psychologist or psychiatrist. Encourage those who are displaying symptoms to seek professional advice. If you are suffering from PTSD or displaying any symptoms, please talk to somebody and get help.
The KIRAN helpline, available 24/7 on 1 800 599 0019, assists those struggling with their mental health. Other organisations, such as Aasra, available on +91 98204 66726, and Samaritans Mumbai, available at +91 84229 84528/+91 84229 84529/+91 84229 84530 or email@example.com, also provide round-the-clock assistance. Remember to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this difficult time.