Helping a Family Member Who Has PTSD - Topic Overview
When someone has
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it changes
family life. The person with PTSD may act differently and get angry easily. He
or she may not want to do things you used to enjoy together.
may feel scared and frustrated about the changes you see in your loved one. You
also may feel angry about what's happening to your family, or wonder if things
will ever go back to the way they were. These feelings and worries are common
in people who have a family member with PTSD.
When Joe [Greco, the director] brought the script to me I had just come off
winning the Emmy award for The Sopranos. I was specifically looking for
a part that would be a 360 from the character I played in The Sopranos.
I chose to play this part for selfish reasons: to be a loving, caring husband
who's victimized by this illness.
Marcia Gay [Harden] is an old friend, and Joe wanted Marcia to play Mary, so
once I convinced Marcia to do it, in preparation we went to a place called
It is important to
learn about PTSD so you can understand why it happened, how it is treated, and
what you can do to help. But you also need to take care of yourself. Changes in
family life are stressful, and taking care of yourself will make it easier to
How can I help?
You may feel helpless, but there
are many things you can do. Nobody expects you to have all the answers.
Here are ways you can help:
Learn as much as you can about PTSD. Knowing
how PTSD affects people may help you understand what your family member is
going through. The more you know, the better you and your family can handle
Offer to go to doctor visits with your family member. You can
help keep track of medicine and therapy, and you can be there for
Tell your loved one you want to listen and that you also
understand if he or she doesn't feel like talking.
activities together, like having dinner or going to a movie.
walk, go for a bike ride, or do some other physical activity together. Exercise
is important for health and helps clear your mind.
contact with family and close friends. A support system will help your family
member get through difficult changes and stressful times.
Your family member may not want your help. If this
happens, keep in mind that withdrawal can be a symptom of PTSD. A person who
withdraws may not feel like talking, taking part in group activities, or being
around other people. Give your loved one space, but tell him or her that you
will always be ready to help.