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PTSD and Your Family - Topic Overview

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.

Family support

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:

  • Be honest and listen to what they have to say.
  • Tell them it's okay to ask questions. Ask them how they're feeling, and let them know that their concerns are important.
  • Make sure they feel safe, secure, and loved. They may be afraid that something bad is going to happen.
  • Provide information about PTSD. Let them know what it is, how you got it, and how you can recover.
  • Encourage a good support system of friends outside your family. Get them involved in school activities or youth programs in the community.
  • Don't promise that your PTSD is going to go away soon. Instead, talk about how treatment can help you feel better. It's okay if you don't have all the answers.
  • Be as positive as you can. Your kids will notice how you react in difficult situations, which can influence their reactions.

Triggers

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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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