What not to say to a PTSD sufferer?

It is important to think carefully before saying anything to a person who has PTSD, as the wrong words can be very triggering and hurtful. Here are three examples of things you should avoid saying:

1. “It’s all in your head”: This statement invalidates the person’s struggle and reduces their trauma-related symptoms to an issue of mental health only. It fails to recognize that physical and emotional distress are just as real, often leaving those with PTSD feeling misunderstood or patronized.

2. “Just try not to think about it”: Suggesting this implies that they have control over their thoughts and feelings when they don’t. Forcing someone suffering from PTSD not to think about what they’re going through may bring on more anxiety instead of offering them relief.

3. “Everyone experiences stress sometimes; why can’t you get over it?”: Comparing traumatic experiences like war and personal assaults with everyday stress does not accurately depict the intensity of their struggle or recognize how much it takes for a survivor to cope with memories of trauma that haunt them even decades later.

Understanding PTSD: What You Need to Know

When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are many misconceptions out there. The condition is more complex than what’s portrayed in the media and individuals suffering from PTSD require an appropriate understanding. One of the most important things to know about PTSD is that it can occur after any type of trauma, not just exposure to warfare or combat. Some people experience signs and symptoms for a long time after experiencing a traumatic event, while others may start noticing them months or even years later.

People with this condition often have difficulty controlling how they react when exposed to memories, feelings or situations related to the initial trauma. It’s not uncommon for PTSD sufferers to feel scared, anxious, confused or angry when reminded of their experiences. As such, it’s essential that friends and family members provide these individuals with patience and compassion whenever possible. Though well-meaning words like “get over it” can be tempting at times, those who suffer from PTSD should never be encouraged to ignore their emotions by invalidating them – rather they should learn healthy ways to cope with them.

Another key aspect concerning PTSD sufferers is that support groups are vital resources when dealing with distressful memories as well as maintaining personal relationships and work responsibilities. Whether made up of peers who experienced similar traumas or psychotherapists providing specialized guidance on handling one’s emotions – these networks play an important role in helping those dealing with difficult past events move forward in life without letting negative thoughts take control of their behavior.

Dismissive Responses: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Communication

In conversations regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it is essential to be aware of dismissive responses. The disorder can often make sufferers feel minimized or misunderstood by others, which worsens the symptoms and makes recovery more difficult. Even if someone does not intend for their response to appear as disrespectful, phrases like “It’s just a phase” can have destructive effects. To avoid this pitfall, try adopting an attitude that emphasizes understanding and constructive dialogue instead of judgments or advice-giving.

When speaking with people who are going through PTSD, you should focus on demonstrating your empathy and support. Make sure your body language reinforces these feelings–if you cross your arms or roll your eyes at something they say, it will convey an entirely different message than what was intended in the conversation. Everyone handles situations differently and unique reactions to trauma should not be judged harshly without knowledge or experience of what the individual is going through; even if you do not fully understand how they feel in any given moment, expressing acceptance regardless of circumstances can go a long way towards helping them cope with their issues.

Above all else, listen actively when talking with someone suffering from PTSD; while avoidance techniques may be tempting in attempting to preserve one’s own comfort level during uncomfortable conversations, such strategies could easily backfire due to misinterpretation or intentional provocation. Put effort into ensuring that you are heard by engaging intently during the exchange–this shows that you care about being present for them as well as having respect for both parties’ perspectives.

The Power of Validation: Acknowledging the Sufferer’s Experience

When it comes to PTSD, validation can be an incredibly powerful tool for those who are suffering. Validation is the process of acknowledging and accepting another person’s feelings or beliefs as legitimate, regardless of whether or not we agree with them. Validation helps a person feel understood and accepted, which can promote self-esteem and help reduce distress. This simple act of listening can be profoundly healing in a world where people often feel unheard and misunderstood.

Validation isn’t about trying to understand or fix someone else’s problems – instead, it’s about being present in the moment with another person without judgement or expectations for how they should be feeling or behaving. It can involve validating both positive and negative emotions alike – offering words of acknowledgement that yes, this experience is real and valid, even if it may seem irrational to us outsiders. By simply offering the sufferer our compassionate attention, we can provide crucial emotional support during times of difficulty.

Validation involves avoiding phrases that suggest that we think the sufferer’s pain is unimportant or invalid – such as “just get over it”, “that doesn’t sound so bad” etc. Such comments erase their experiences by implying that they’re insignificant when compared to other people’s; these types of reactions show no respect for their struggles and only make matters worse by exacerbating feelings of loneliness and isolation. On the contrary, providing meaningful recognition to the individual’s difficulties can open up much needed space for growth and healing.

Triggers and Flashbacks: Responding with Sensitivity and Support

People who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can experience triggers and flashbacks. A trigger can be an event, or even a word or phrase, which is associated with the traumatic event that has been experienced. When someone experiences a trigger it may cause them to suddenly re-experience the original trauma in vivid detail, sometimes as if they are back at the scene of their trauma in real life.

When this happens to someone living with PTSD it can be confusing and upsetting for both parties involved. It is important for people around these individuals to respond with sensitivity and empathy when this does occur. Reassuring words such as ‘It’s ok, you’re safe now’ often help those experiencing a flashback return back to reality and comforted knowing that they are not alone. Asking gentle questions such as ‘what do you need right now? Can I help in any way?’ Also helps those affected by PTSD feel supported rather than judged during a difficult time.

Equally, it is just as important to avoid phrases or behaviours which have been known to heighten distress levels or provoke negative emotions due to triggering past traumas such as using terms like ‘snap out of it.’, ‘Just relax’ or ‘it wasn’t really that bad.’ These types of responses could make the situation much worse instead of better; so being mindful of language use is crucial during times of difficulty for those living with PTSD.

Don’t Blame the Victim: Challenging Attitudes that Stigmatize or Minimize PTSD

It is all too common to see people stigmatizing, minimizing or blaming a person suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those affected can struggle with triggers and responses that they have little to no control over. When someone tries to diminish the weight of these issues or burden the victim by suggesting it’s something they did wrong, it can be deeply damaging.

An important starting point in combating this kind of attitude is for people to increase their understanding about PTSD. While some may think that PTSD comes on suddenly as an extreme reaction, the truth is often more complex; symptoms typically present gradually and manifest differently from person to person. It is essential that those around sufferers do not simplify complicated medical conditions by placing blame on individuals when they are seeking help.

Rather than telling someone ‘just get over it’ or saying ‘it could have been worse’ or ‘it was your own fault’, take time instead to educate yourself through relevant books and resources so you become equipped with knowledge about psychological illnesses such as PTSD and how best to support somebody who suffers from them. With better understanding of mental health difficulties, there will hopefully be less stigma attached and greater empathy towards those living with trauma-based conditions.

Strategies for Offering Help: How to Be a Resilient Ally

When someone is struggling with PTSD, the last thing they may want to hear is unhelpful advice. Those who are close to a person with PTSD must recognize that although they may feel powerless and discouraged, their effortless acts of resilience can make all the difference. Building strategies for being an ally begins by respecting boundaries and validating emotions, something that can be difficult if you’re unaware of how or why things are happening. To start with, it’s important to understand that having an open mind and listening attentively allows for meaningful communication that builds trust between both parties. Allowing them time to process their feelings without passing judgment gives them space to talk through what has happened in their life before as well as any current issues causing difficulty in life. Utilizing safe spaces where individuals feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts also sends a message of support without making assumptions about a person’s experience.

Being mindful when offering help creates a stronger bond within the relationship; this includes being aware of one’s own reactions and understanding how to discuss sensitive topics in constructive ways rather than accidentally triggering someone further down memory lane. Learning effective stress management techniques such as mindful breathing and exercise not only helps the individual cope but shows dedication towards building better relationships around people struggling with trauma-related symptoms. At the same time, never underestimate the power of self-care; encouraging someone who suffers from PTSD learn different coping mechanisms will enable them on how best they can handle various situations which could otherwise become overwhelming for them at times.

Self-Care and Boundaries: Taking Care of Yourself While Supporting Others

When it comes to helping a loved one cope with their PTSD, establishing appropriate boundaries and engaging in self-care is essential. Whether the individual has recently received their diagnosis or they’ve been living with it for years, your approach should always be supportive and understanding. Although you may want to do everything in your power to help the person struggling with PTSD, remember that you can’t take on someone else’s pain; instead, focus on creating an environment of safety and acceptance.

Your willingness to listen attentively is likely more helpful than any platitudes or words of advice that you could offer up. Respect the feelings of the sufferer without necessarily trying to solve their issues – just let them know that you are there for them if needed. It’s also important not try to minimize their feelings by saying things like “it could be worse” or “at least you have this other thing going for you…” It’s best not to provide unsolicited opinions unless asked directly, as people with PTSD might feel attacked or judged if certain comments are made.

Keep in mind that being supportive doesn’t mean overextending yourself – make sure to prioritize taking care of yourself first as well. Making time for relaxation activities such as yoga or art can help ground both parties involved in order ensure healthy communication and relationships moving forward. Your goal is ultimately to create a relationship where trust is nurtured over time – don’t forget about yourself while providing unconditional support along the way.

About the author.
Jay Roberts is the founder of the Debox Method and after nearly 10 years and hundreds of sessions, an expert in the art of emotional release to remove the negative effects of trauma. Through his book, courses, coaching, and talks Jay’s goal is to teach as many people as he can the power of the Debox Method. 

© Debox 2022