How to help someone with PTSD?

Helping someone with PTSD symptoms can be difficult. PTSD symptoms might include negative alterations in moods, disturbing dreams, avoidant behaviour, angry outbursts, intrusive thoughts and trouble sleeping. Living with or seeing someone we love struggling with such symptoms is unpleasant. Angry outbursts triggered for no obvious reason might be taken personally. One main difficulty is that PTSD symptoms and extremes of behaviour do not match the current environment or current circumstances. What can we do to assist someone going through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Help them to get professional Help

It is much easier for someone to get better from PTSD when they get professional help. Without professional help a person can suffer for a long time with symptoms. Therefore, helping them to get professional help should be your priority. The leading evidence-based treatment for PTSD is EMDR Therapy  Complex PTSD is best treated with long term Psychotherapy.



Support Network

The best protection and recovery from trauma is our attachments to people we love. Having loved ones on hand to support us in life is immeasurably important. If a traumatised person feels disconnected it is difficult for them to feel close to someone so just being there for them can be enough. Helping them to develop the right support network is essential for trauma recovery. Examples of a healthy support network might include, close loving family, close friends, being involved in team sports, an addiction community like AA, CA or NA and a trained psychotherapist who specialises in trauma therapy.

Being supportive

Providing support to someone with PTSD requires a delicate balance between knowing when to provide support and when to give the person space. There is no better way to calm someone down as with a soothing familiar reassuring voice or hug if they are happy with body contact.

Some people who feel traumatised might isolate themselves to try and cope with symptoms as well as protect loved ones from their behaviour. Encouraging them to maintain a connection is beneficial. They might also develop secondary behaviours like an addiction to try and help cope with their difficulty. Understanding that these types of behaviours are ways of trying to cope with unwanted symptoms is helpful. Encouraging more helpful ways of staving off symptoms like swimming, yoga or anything grounding can help. Expecting somebody to just get over it or move on is unreasonable when trying to support and help someone with trauma symptoms. They can get better with the right help and support.


Listen to them

One of the difficulties that someone might have who is experiencing PTSD is feeling disconnected from their usual selves as well as the world. They might also feel like isolating themselves. They might also become isolated due to angry outbursts or extreme behaviours or addiction. Just being there and providing an empathetic compassionate ear can help them to feel connected, heard and loved.


Seeing someone struggling and providing support for them can be difficult and tiring. Looking after yourself is always important however it is even more important when trying to provide support for others. Keeping your own levels of stress to a minimum and getting the basics right in relation food, exercise and nutrition can help.

Educate yourself

Someone who has been traumatised might feel fragmented and disconnected from life and others. Their emotional brain and nervous system becomes overreactive in an attempt to protect themselves. Thinking rationally and find a course of action that will be helpful is difficult if a person is being triggered and experiencing flashbacks. It is therefore helpful if someone else that is close to them is able to do some of this leg work and help them to understand what is going on with a calm rational supportive presence. Pages which can help you gain an insight into PTSD and trauma include.

PTSD Triggers
DSM-5 PTSD Criteria
Risk of Developing PTSD
What is trauma?
Types of trauma
Trauma Symptoms
Do I have PTSD?