Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be challenging and when a loved one is struggling with this disorder, caution must be exercised to avoid hurting or offending the sufferer. PTSD might manifest as a panic attack, a flashback, extreme anxiety, palpitations, etc. It usually develops when one witnesses or undergoes a trauma like war combat, sexual assault, natural disaster, death of a loved one, and so on.
Individuals struggling with PTSD symptoms might develop sensitivity toward certain triggers. Therefore, one should be careful about the choice of words. Listed below are a few sentences which should never be said to a person dealing with PTSD as these can cause long-term hurt, mistrust and misery.
1. Forget it now and just move on: Had it been so simple, PTSD would not be so common. A simple sentence like this can have far-reaching consequences. It might severely strain the relationship between two people if one of them has PTSD and the other one uses such language.
2. Oh, I thought only war veterans have PTSD: This is a damaging and naïve comment. If one has a close friend or a coworker or a family member suffering from PTSD, it is imperative that the person reads up on this disorder to gain adequate knowledge. PTSD can strike anyone, not only war veterans. Divorce/death of a spouse, a fatal accident, and any traumatic incident can result in PTSD.
3. It could be worse, you know: A person might use such words with a loved one struggling with PTSD symptoms. However, these are more damaging than comforting. It means that a person is unnecessarily trying to exaggerate his/her mental traumas for garnering attention and that there are people out there who are up and about even after going through the worst of times.
4. I can feel your pain and I know how it feels: PTSD is a serious mental health disorder. The trauma it inflicts could last a lifetime. Therefore, using statements like “I can feel your pain and I know how it feels” appears vague and nonsensical. For example, one female conceived after 20 years of trying and she lost her pregnancy in an advanced age due to associated risk factors. Now, if she is told that she will never be able to carry a child, it might get highly traumatic for her. On the other hand, someone might lose a baby but still have a child after a few years so, she might be able to relate the pain of losing a child, however, not beyond that, for everyone has different circumstances and different coping mechanisms.
5. You need to brace yourself up if you want this relationship to work: The statement given above is outrageously insensitive. If a loved one or a partner is grappling with PTSD and the symptoms are worsening, issuing a threat that he or she must recover now to sustain a relationship is cruel. PTSD doesn’t follow a timetable. The symptoms might exacerbate or alleviate depending on an individual’s coping skills and the kind of support that one receives. Therefore, instead of telling them to get over their trauma, one should reassure them of their unrelenting support, regardless of what happens.
Road to recovery
If someone is struggling with PTSD, he or she must have endured or witnessed something horrendous in the past. This person might be your close friend, someone from your family or even a dear coworker. Instead of telling him/her to get a grip and move on, try telling him/her that it is very brave of them to have come this far and that they have your back. Besides, helping one get enrolled for a professional support could be a stepping stone towards a faster recovery.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental illness, be it PTSD, depression, anxiety, or something else, get in touch with the California Mental Health Helpline for information on mental health treatment centers in California. Contact our 24/7 helpline at 855-559-3923 or chat online for advice regarding existing psychological rehabilitation centers in California.