How can friends and family help?

This section is for friends or family who wish to support someone who has PTSD. If you are a work colleague of someone who has PTSD, this section may also be useful for you.

Listen

Social support is really important in helping someone with PTSD seek help and recover.

You can help by:

  • listening to their experience, if they want to tell you about it
  • giving them time to talk and tell their story
  • allowing them to be upset
  • not judging them

Look out for warning signs

You might see a change in the behaviour or mood of the person you want to support. Some of these changes might include:

  • a change in performance at work, lateness or taking sick leave
  • a change in mood, such as anger, irritability or depression
  • a change in energy levels, such as alertness or a lack of concentration

If you notice a change in the behaviour of someone close to you, you could ask them how they feel. If they are going through a difficult time, this might encourage them to seek help.

Help them seek support

If they want you to, you could help your friend or family member seek support. This could start with you exploring sources of support together (see ‘Useful contacts’).

Learn about PTSD

You may find it helpful to find out more about PTSD, especially if you know someone close to you has experienced a traumatic event. This will help you to support the person and better understand what they might be going through. Anxiety UK has information about PTSD which you may find helpful (see ‘Useful contacts’).

Look after yourself

A traumatic event can have a major impact, not just on those who lived through it, but also on that person’s family, friends and colleagues. There are sources of support available for you too. Lifecentre provides help for people supporting survivors of sexual abuse. ASSIST trauma care also provides support for families, friends and carers of people with PTSD (see ‘Useful contacts’).

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