Skip to content

Mental Health Center

Font Size

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.

You 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.

Recommended Related to Mental Health

Why Multitasking Isn’t Efficient

Kris Oser, 37, of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., is an email fiend. A single mother and director of communications for a market research company, she has to be immediately accessible to executives and the news media. That means Oser is often on the phone and messaging several people at the same time -- and that can lead to trouble. In one recent gaffe, she mistakenly emailed a reporter at The Wall Street Journal instead of her best friend, asking her to pick up Oser’s daughter from school.

Read the Why Multitasking Isn’t Efficient article > >

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 cope.

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 PTSD.
  • 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 support.
  • Tell your loved one you want to listen and that you also understand if he or she doesn't feel like talking.
  • Plan family activities together, like having dinner or going to a movie.
  • Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or do some other physical activity together. Exercise is important for health and helps clear your mind.
  • Encourage 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.

    1|2|3|4
    Next Article:

    Helping a Family Member Who Has PTSD Topics

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
    lunar eclipse
    Signs of mania and depression.
     
    man screaming
    Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
    woman looking into fridge
    When food controls you.
     
    Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
    Article
    senior man eating a cake
    Article
     
    Phobias
    Slideshow
    woman reading medicine warnings
    Article
     
    depressed young woman
    Article
    man with arms on table
    Article
     
    veteran
    Article
    man cringing and covering ears
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections