How to Help Someone With PTSD Episode: A Guide for Those Living With PTSD Sufferers

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Having the right tips to learn how to help someone with PTSD episodes can be a helpful tool for assisting loved ones.

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is an incredibly challenging mental disorder that appears as a result of exposure to a significantly traumatic event.

Although it is prevalent in military families, people can also experience PTSD due to numerous other events.

With the right coping tools, you can assist someone currently dealing with an episode and guide them towards help.

Alternatively, these tips can also help you work through a personal episode.

How to Help Someone With PTSD Episodes

Let’s get into some of the top recommended tips you can use to assist someone dealing with PTSD.

It’s important to note that intervention may not be the best choice, depending on the situation.

Many sufferers of this mental disorder may experience aggressive behavior and angry outbursts.

If you believe a loved one experiences violent PTSD episodes, assisting could put your body and life in danger.

It’s important to guide these individuals to the correct mental health services to work through their trauma.

Respect Their Boundaries

The first thing to consider when helping someone through a PTSD episode is respecting their boundaries.

This mental disorder tends to manifest in withdrawal from people and activities the sufferer once enjoyed.

Understanding these boundaries due to their traumatic experience can make offering help simpler and more effective.

When dealing with an episode, many people prefer to be left alone so they can work through the situation.

It’s important to take special care to listen to their needs and attend to what they need during this time.

After the episode has concluded, reevaluate their boundaries to see if they require additional attention.

Listen Deeply

Dealing with PTSD can be tricky because some sufferers experience episodes due to known events.

However, some people also experience symptoms because of private or forgotten situations.

In some instances, individuals subconsciously have trauma that can present in PTSD episodes.

As a friend or family member, you must ensure you listen deeply to what your loved one is saying.

You’ll want to discuss their mental and physical symptoms, let them talk about the situation, and be empathetic when they open their mind to you.

It can be best to avoid offering advice and just listen.

Once the individual knows they can confide in you without judgment, you’ll become a critical part of the healing process.

You might even find that to make considerable headway, and the individual must talk about the event repeatedly.

No matter how many times you hear the same details, always listen with an open mind and heart.

Move Them Away From Triggers

As mentioned, most people with PTSD tend to have episodes due to specific triggers.

For example, military veterans may have flashbacks when hearing a loud sound resembling gunfire.

There’s also the potential for triggers to be something small to an unknowing party, like the smell of a specific cologne.

The best thing you can do when your loved one is showing signs of an episode is to help move them away from triggers.

Otherwise, they’ll continually be reliving the event, making it hard to break out of the attack.

This is another reason why listening with an open mind and heart is important, so you can know what triggers they should avoid.

If you have yet to figure out what causes their PTSD episodes, some of the most common triggers include:

  • Confined spaces
  • Large crowds
  • Bright lights
  • Loud sounds
  • Torrential weather from a natural disaster
  • Remembering traumatic memories

Maintain Calmness

Many family members suggest that when a loved one suffers from a PTSD episode, they rarely act like themselves.

You might find different sides of the person come out that you never knew existed, especially regarding anger and frustration.

Although it can be challenging to remain calm in these instances, it’s imperative.

If you can maintain some control of the situation, you’ll find it’s simpler to guide the person out of their spiral.

They’ll also lean on you for support, as you’ll help guide them through the storm until it’s over.

It can be tempting to lose your cool, especially as people with PTSD use anger as a defense mechanism, but it will be more damaging.

It can be helpful to try to diffuse the situation by reminding them how safe they are at the moment and with you.

Be sure not to crowd them, so they don’t feel threatened. It can also be helpful to try to communicate with them, like asking how you can help.

Again, you must put safety first when assisting someone with PTSD.

If you’re in physical danger, remove yourself from the situation.

Doing so is particularly important if they continue to escalate in anger.

learn how to help someone with ptsd episode

How to Help Someone After a PTSD Episode

Knowing what to do when someone suffers from a PTSD episode is relatively straightforward.

By offering an open ear, respecting their boundaries, and staying calm, you can help guide them through the event.

Knowing what to do after an episode has finished is just as important, especially when getting them professional help.

Reducing At-Home Stress

The harmful effects of stress on your mental health are considerably heftier than most people realize.

This is particularly true for someone with PTSD, as stress and PTSD are often intertwined.

That said, the sufferer must feel like they have a safe and comfortable place to call home.

You’ll want to ensure they have time to themselves and plenty of space to relax throughout the day.

Minimize potential triggers around the house and help offer a peaceful and comfortable environment they can rely on daily.

The more stable their at-home experience is, the easier it will be for them to work through their traumatic experiences.

Develop a Plan Together

Outside of routines, it can also be helpful to begin developing plans to prepare for another emotional outburst.

Episodes are one aspect of PTSD, but sufferers may experience regular flashbacks, panic attacks, and nightmares daily.

Knowing what to do in these instances can help alleviate a lot of pressure in the household.

It can be helpful to work alongside your loved ones to determine what they need during episodes.

Do they need you to ground them if they begin to dissociate?

Would they prefer to have time alone when working through the traumatic event?

Establishing a plan is not only helpful for those dealing with PTSD but for their families as well.

Like implementing a structure, a plan gives everyone something to rely on each time there’s an episode.

It helps to keep nerves calm and tells everyone what they need to do.

Encourage Treatment From a Mental Health Professional

The most helpful way to assist someone with PTSD is to make sure they seek professional treatment.

Although there are many ways you can help at home, it should come secondary to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The recovery process for PTSD is long and arduous and needs to be guided by a seasoned professional.

It can be challenging to encourage people to seek help dealing with this mental disorder.

However, focusing on the benefits of effective treatment can be helpful.

Once they understand they can begin to lead an everyday life after treatment, they could be more likely to seek help.

It’s also important to let your loved one know that PTSD is a massive responsibility for you without professional treatment.

According to the Caregivers of Veterans study, PTSD-related caregivers are more likely to suffer caregiving-related impacts than others.

You might begin to find it challenging to deal with:

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Hefty emotional stress
  • Marriage and financial challenges

These considerable consequences should be enough reason for a loved one to seek treatment.

Treatment is easier to manage as long as they understand their mental disorder affects more than just themselves.

Consider Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can be a helpful treatment available for people who have PTSD as well as anxiety.

It’s a unique therapeutic approach that allows individuals to work on their trauma at the deepest level.

By subjectively analyzing past situations, NLP can help develop coping mechanisms to work through emotionally triggering events.

Another massive benefit of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is it helps with reducing the intensity of PTSD episodes.

The more you work through triggering events, the easier it will be for your brain to process the event.

Regular treatment helps offer a considerable decline in traumatic responses to stimuli that remind you of the event.

If you’re interested in learning more about NLP and how it assists with PTSD, we highly recommend these resources:

  • PTSD Free – The NLP Thought Experience – Twenty Twenty, John Wingert

PTSD Free – The NLP Thought Experience is a great read to help you begin working on your PTSD so you can finally be free of the disorder.

According to the authors, it’s designed to help some individuals work through their trauma within 90 days.

You can do 15-minute daily exercises with seven straightforward thought experiments to strengthen your resolve.

  • A Breakthrough Treatment for Overcoming PTSD, Phobia and Trauma – Daniel Abella

A Breakthrough Treatment for Overcoming PTSD, Phobia and Trauma is a fantastic resource.

Although it doesn’t revolve around Neuro-Linguistic Programming, many tenets are the foundations of the practice.

Readers will learn about consciousness, neuroscience, and other factors that contribute to the emotional response of PTSD.

With a deeper understanding of PTSD’s stress response, you can work more effectively towards healing.

It’s also an excellent read for family members to help you better understand what your loved one is living with.

  • Transformational NLP: A New Psychology – Carl Buchheit Ph.D., Ellie Schamber Ph.D.

Transformational NLP: A New Psychology is another great resource to help you work through your PTSD.

You can begin your healing at home by focusing on top-recommended tips by NLP therapists and psychoanalysts.

Also, you’ll gather a new understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and what it truly means.

Provide the Comfort and Stability a PTSD Sufferer Needs

It’s important to learn how to help someone with PTSD episodes, allowing the sufferer to feel comfort and stability while reliving traumatic events.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can assist with episodes, ranging from listening intently to working through trauma with NLP.

As long as you continually support your loved ones, they can begin their healing.

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