Post Traumatic Stress: 10 Tips to Help Your Family Cope with Your PTSD

There are many people who experience traumatic events in their lives who live with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether it is from war, extreme or repetitive stressful events as a child or from a relationship as an adult, post traumatic stress disorder can feel like a burden for both you and your family. However, there are ways that you can help your family cope with your PTSD.

1. Recognize that this is a disease that can be treated:
You didn’t ask to have PTSD, nor did your family. However, it is a treatable condition that requires support from a trained professional – using exposure, cognitive therapy, and hypnosis or imagery techniques – combined with support from peer groups, and perhaps medication as well.
2. Make sure your family gets support too:
Living with someone who has PTSD isn’t easy, and it can bring up lots of emotions for your loved ones too. Also, it can be a relief to know that they are not alone in having a loved one struggling with this disorder. They can also see a cognitive therapist to provide support.3. Be open to listening to each other:Make sure that your family members know that it is okay for you all to talk about post traumatic stress disorder and how it is affecting them. Holding in emotions and feelings can build resentment and anger that could come out in unhealthy ways.

4. Practice meditation to reduce PTSD symptoms:

According to Psychology Today, the United States military has found that practicing Transcendental Meditation can have a positive effect on relieving symptoms from post traumatic stress disorder. The effects were so positive that over 80% of the participants were able to stop using psychotropic medication. This can mean less stress for you and your family.

5. Have a plan in place before outbursts occur:

The Veterans Administration recommends that families have a plan in place before an argument or outburst gets worse. For instance:

  • Have a code word in place to signal it’s time to stop talking.
  • Separate to safe places to cool down.
  • When calmer, return to the discussion and be open to each other’s point of view.
  • Use phrases that include the word “I” instead of “you” to describe feelings and avoid projecting blame.

6. Educate your family about post traumatic stress disorder:

It is important for your spouse and children to have an understanding of PTSD, and to know that they are not to blame for your behavior. With your children, you don’t have to tell them everything, and you can give them appropriate examples for their age as to what PTSD is. Watch out for post traumatic stress disorder symptoms in your children, as children who see parents struggle with PTSD may develop symptoms themselves.

7. Do things together:

Continue doing activities that you enjoy as a family. Some ideas include:

  • Attending school functions such as plays or sporting events.
  • Spending time in nature, such as at a local park.
  • Having unstructured play time at home.
  • Playing board games together.
  • Creating home projects, such as a garden, tree house, etc.
  • Spending time with the family pet.

8. Find ways to take care of yourself:

If you don’t take care of yourself then it can be harder for your family when you exhibit PTSD symptoms. The National Center for PTSD has several recommendations.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule to get adequate rest.
  • Continue participating in activities that you previously enjoyed.
  • Spend time with people and in places that help you feel safe.
  • Use relaxation methods like breathing exercises, meditation, calming self-talk, soothing music)
  • Use a journal to record feelings and emotions.
  • Continue performing routines that you used to do.

9. Make sure you and your family stay healthy:

Eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and stay on top of doctor’s appointments and checkups.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help:

It could be easy for you and your family to keep your struggle with post traumatic stress disorder strictly in the family. However, this means that your family could miss out on support from extended family members, friends, religious groups, etc. There is no shame in asking for help for a medical condition that is not your or your family’s fault.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a difficult condition, but it is something that you and your family can cope with so that you all can live the most healthy life possible.

Questions, Concerns, Thoughts?

I invite you to call me for a free 15 – minute phone consultation to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about anxiety, treatment and my practice. Please visit my website @ or call me directly @ (206) 745-4933.