What can be done?

Impact on families

Some tips on what can be done:

  1. Do not force the person to talk about the traumatic event.
  2. Instead of talking, just spend time with the person you care for.
  3. If the person does want to talk about their experience, try to listen without expectations or judgments – no need to give advice. It is the act of listening that is helpful! Do not tell them how they should feel.
  4. Encourage them to join a support group with others with similar traumatic experiences.
  5. Do things with the person for whom you care that have nothing to do with PTSD or the
  6. To help them to build trust, let them know that you are here for the long run so they feel loved and supported.
  7. Create routines and schedules with tasks which create a of stability and predictability and get the person involved in family activities.
  8. Minimize stress at home. Do not expect that he/she will be active or emotionally present all the time. It is important that they have the space and the time for rest and relaxation.
  9. Trauma triggers can take the person right back in the past – learn the triggers and try to minimize them.
  10. Talk about the triggers and together come up with a game plan.
  11. When anniversaries come around, keep in mind that the period will pass and be there for them.
  12. Decide together on how to respond when they have a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack.
  13. Decide together on how to tackle sleeping problems – like having the entire family following a sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night sleep quality and full day time alertness. Some of the good practices are creating a bedtime routine, creating pleasant environment for sleep, avoidance of foods and drinks in the evening that interfere with sleep, limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes, allowing for enough daytime light exposure.
  14. In general, keep your promises – show you’re trustworthy by being consistent and by following through on what you say you are going to do.
  15. People with PTSD have a feeling of shortened future – help them by making plans for both of you and be sure to talk about them so the person can regain some sense of it.
  16. Anger outbursts and violent behaviour are difficult to deal with – Keep in mind that your safety comes first and if necessary, call the emergency number! On anger outburst and violent behavior please consult guidelines.

Taking care of the family member with PTSD can cause emotional burnout – taking care of this person can even lead to secondary traumatization and PTSD affecting you.
You should educate yourself about PTSD – the more you know about it, the easier it will be for you to help the person and to keep things in perspective.
As hard as it sometimes may be, try not to take the symptoms personally. More often than not, it is the disorder that makes them behave and interact as they do.


That being said, it is very important that you do not let your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs so try and take care of yourself as well.

Image source: personal