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How to Support Others During PTSD Awareness Month

Every June, 7 Summit Pathways joins the world in raising awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Although many people associate PTSD with war veterans, the condition can affect anyone that’s been through a traumatic experience, such as:

  • A shooting or otherwise being threatened with a weapon
  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse

PTSD can be short-lived and mild, or it can last for years and interrupt one’s life. However, every person who deals with PTSD deserves treatment and support.

What Does PTSD Look Like?

At its core, PTSD is characterized by triggers that cause someone to remember their traumatic experience. Triggers can be sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that make the person think of their event and get lost in the memory, often called flashbacks. These flashbacks can be intense and feel nearly impossible to stop.

A person dealing with PTSD and flashbacks may:

  • Have panic attacks seemingly unprovoked
  • Avoid situations they know will trigger them
  • Be constantly fatigued due to insomnia or nightmares
  • Be agitated, angry or irritable
  • Develop depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses
  • Use alcohol or other drugs to calm themselves and avoid triggers

How to Help Someone With PTSD

So, what do you say to someone with PTSD? In many cases, letting them know you love and support them can help someone with PTSD feel less alone. You can also help by:

  • Understanding their condition: To help a friend or loved one with PTSD, don’t put it on them to help you understand what they’re going through. Search online or visit your local library to gather information about what causes PTSD, how it affects the brain and the symptoms you can expect them to endure.
  • Learning about treatment options: While you’re learning, it may be helpful to explore common treatments for PTSD, including medications and certain types of therapy. If your loved one ever approaches you about their condition, you will know how to help them.
  • Talking to them: Although not all people that deal with PTSD want to talk about their condition, make sure your loved one knows you’re open to listening. You can also offer them distractions to get them out of their mind.

PTSD and Addiction

Drugs and alcohol are common ways people attempt to self-medicate their PTSD. Veterans are especially likely to become addicted to alcohol to manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, substance use usually worsens PTSD over time, even if it helps at the moment. Eventually, they form an addiction, leaving them with two issues to overcome.

7 Summit Pathways specializes in treating addiction with co-occurring disorders like mental illness and PTSD. We use evidence-based treatment to find the root of the addiction and treat them alongside one another with medication, counseling and other wellness practices.

If you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD and addiction of any kind, contact our team today. We know what works, and we’ll be happy to help you find your path to Recovery.