PTSD and Your Family
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a challenge for you and your family. Your family may find it hard to accept some of the changes PTSD can bring to your life. By talking and supporting one another, you and your family will be better prepared for these changes.
Your family is an important part of your recovery. They can be there to listen and to help you through rough times.
It's also important that you help your family understand PTSD. They may not always know how to respond when they see you hurting. They may feel scared, sad, guilty, or even angry about your condition.
Talking about PTSD can help you and your family cope. Talk about your symptoms and what triggers them. Discuss different treatments and how they can help you recover. When you open up, your family can better understand what you're going through.
Family therapy can help. This is a type of counseling that involves your whole family. A therapist can teach you how to work through problems and communicate better.
Talking with your kids about PTSD
Teaching your kids about PTSD is important. They may not understand why you're feeling bad or why you get angry sometimes. This can be scary for kids at any age. They also may blame themselves for things that aren't their fault. Make sure your kids understand that they aren't to blame for your PTSD.
When talking with your kids about PTSD:
Things that suddenly remind you of your traumatic event are called triggers. Triggers can bring up stressful feelings or cause you to have flashbacks, which means you feel like you're reliving the event all over again.
Trying to avoid triggers is a common reaction. It's normal to stay away from things that cause you stress. Because of this, you may feel like you can't do the things you used to enjoy. This may be hard on you and your family.
Talk with your family about your triggers. They need to know what causes you stress. By being aware of your triggers, your family can help you find ways to cope with them.
Some common triggers include:
Coping with holidays
Big holidays like Christmas and New Year's can be stressful. The holidays can be a painful reminder of past times when life seemed better. Big groups of family and friends are often part of the holidays. This may be stressful because:
Your loved ones also might ask you questions about your life or about PTSD. You may not feel comfortable answering these questions. Keep in mind that your family may feel some of the same pressures.
You can cope with holiday stress by:
For family members
If you are the spouse or family member of someone with PTSD, here are some tips for helping your loved one during the holidays:
For more information, see the topic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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