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Healing From Complex Trauma


(Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Information for family and friends


PTSD and complex trauma, do not just affect the sufferer.


Family and friends and relationships are also affected and all concerned need to be educated about PTSD, in order to best support the sufferer, but also to take care of their own emotional wellbeing.


A book I highly recomend is;


'The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship', by Diane England Ph D. See Link HERE.


This book explains PTSD, the symptoms and explains how family and friends can assist the sufferer's healing journey and also understand their own health and emotional wellbeing is vital, for all concerned.



Families and children can be affected, and there are great coping strategies for this.




This info is excellent and sourced via HELPGUIDE.Org HERE 


Understanding the impact of PTSD on family & relationships


PTSD can take a heavy toll on friends and family members, and relationship difficulties are common. It can be hard to understand your loved one’s behavior—why he or she is less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may even be afraid of the person. The symptoms of PTSD can also result in job loss, substance abuse, and other stressful problems that affect the whole family.

It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally. When someone you love is distant, anxious, or angry all the time, your relationship suffers. But it’s important to remember that the person may not always have control over his or her behavior. Anger, irritability, depression, apathy, mistrust, and negativity are common PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off. With time and treatment, they will get better, but it’s a gradual process.


Tips for coping with PTSD in the family



PTSD & the family: Social support is vital to recovery


It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from their friends and family. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, too much isolation is unhealthy. Your comfort and support can help a person with PTSD overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts claim that receiving love from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.

Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support, however, isn’t always easy. You can’t be your family member’s therapist, and you can’t force him or her to get better. But you can play a major role in the healing process by spending time together and listening carefully.


Why someone with PTSD might be reluctant to seek support


How to be a good listener


While you shouldn’t push a person with PTSD to talk, you can let them know you’re available for them. If they do choose to share, try to listen without expectations or judgments. Make it clear that you’re interested and that you care, but don’t worry about giving advice. Leave that to the professionals. Instead, do your best to simply take in what they’re saying. Never underestimate how much the act of empathetic listening can help.


A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on. Instead, offer to talk as many times as needed. And remember, it’s okay to dislike what you hear. Some of the things your loved one tells you might be very hard to listen to. But it’s important to respect their feelings and reactions. If you come across as disapproving, horrified, or judgmental, they are unlikely to open up to you again.


Communication Pitfalls to Avoid



PTSD & the family: Tips for rebuilding trust and safety


Trauma alters the way a person sees the world, making it seem like a perpetually dangerous and frightening place. It also damages people’s ability to trust others and themselves.


Anything you can do to rebuild your loved one’s sense of security will contribute to recovery. This means cultivating a safe environment, acting in a dependable and reassuring way, and stepping in to help when needed. But it also means finding ways to empower the person. Smothering someone with PTSD or doing things for them that they’re capable of doing for themselves is counterproductive. Better to build their confidence and self-trust by giving them more choices and control.


Things you can do to increase your loved one's sense of safety



PTSD & the family: Encouraging and supporting treatment


Despite the importance of your love and support, it isn’t always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD treatment. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how you’d feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.


Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Don’t bring it up when you’re arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that he or she is “crazy.” Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.



PTSD & the family: Anticipating and managing triggers


A trigger is anything—a person, place, thing, or situation—that reminds your family member of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom, such as a flashback. Sometimes, triggers are obvious (for example, a military veteran might be triggered by seeing his combat buddies or by the loud noises that sound like gunfire). Others may take some time to identify and understand. For example, maybe a song was playing when the traumatic event happened, and now that song or even others in the same genre of music are triggers. And triggers aren’t just external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.



Types of PTSD triggers


Common external triggers


Common internal triggers




Talking to your family member or partner about triggers


Ask your loved one to sit down with you and make a list of triggers that have previously led to flashbacks or other PTSD symptoms. If you're aware of the triggers that may cause an upsetting reaction, you can take steps to minimize or avoid them.


You can also talk about things he or she did in the past in response to a trigger that seemed to help (as well as the things that didn’t). Then you can come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond to a flare-up of symptoms. Ask your loved one what he or she would like you to do during a nightmare, flashback, or panic attack. Having a plan in place will make the situation less scary for both of you. You’ll also be in a much better position to help your loved one calm down.


How to help in the middle of a flashback or panic attack


During a flashback, people often feel a sense of disassociation, as if they’re detached from their own body. Anything you can do to “ground” them will help.



PTSD & the family: Dealing with volatility and anger


PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage. In fact, anger is so common in people with PTSD that it is considered one of the prime symptoms of hyperarousal.


PTSD & the family: The importance of self-care


As previously mentioned, if a loved one has PTSD, it’s essential that you take care of yourself and get extra support.


Looking after your own well-being isn’t selfish—it’s necessary. In addition to putting a lot of time and energy into your family member’s problems, you’re probably taking on a bigger share of the household responsibilities as well. That’s a big caregiver burden that can lead to emotional strain and physical exhaustion if you don’t take steps to recharge and find balance.


Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout. In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul, you have to nurture and care for yourself. Like proper maintenance on a car, it’s what will keep you going.


Tips for taking care of yourself


Self-care begins with taking care of your physical needs: getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating properly, and looking after any medical issues. From there, it extends to your mental, social, and emotional needs.



Trauma can be "contagious"


Another reason why self-care is so important is because of the potential for secondary traumatization. What that means is that the spouses, partners, and family members of people with PTSD can develop their own symptoms. This can happen from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to scary symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk that you yourself may become traumatized.





More Advice For Friends And Family.


The first piece of advice I give everyone is to know PTSD is not a choice. The sufferer does not want PTSD.


PTSD is very real and is a horrible, distressing disorder, no-one chooses, or wants.


Partners, family and friends are affected by PTSD too, not just the sufferer.


Partners, family and friends need to be aware of their own emotional wellbeing and health as a priority too.


Learning as much as possible about PTSD and the sufferer’s symptoms, triggers and stressors, is very beneficial in helping them.


Being non judgemental and compassionate is needed. The PTSD sufferer will already be having a hard time with feeling negative emotions about themselves and often PTSD sufferers struggle with self compassion.


Patience is needed from everyone involved, as PTSD is a very challenging, relentless disorder to manage.


Anger and irritability, are symptoms of PTSD and there are reasons why, but this needs to be managed and PTSD is not an excuse for aggression or violence to others.


The symptoms experienced in PTSD, are not a reflection of how the sufferer feels about any other person.


Irritability is common with PTSD and is often about the PTSD brain becoming overwhelmed and not due to lack of patience etc.


The PTSD sufferer, may require time where they can be alone and again this is not a reflection of lack of love or care.


PTSD does not affect the persons intelligence, or capacity to have reasonable thinking.


It is good to be aware, when symptoms are severe - the PTSD brain is in ‘high danger alert mode’ and decision making can then be based upon the PTSD brains survival need for finding safety. An example of this is when my symptoms are severe and I become distressed - I have a leave a room – as I feel so unsafe and feel trapped. This is also part of the ‘fight/flight/freeze/fawn’ mode associated with PTSD.


Find positive activities to do together, such as exercise, which is beneficial for all and improves overall health.


Stress is something a PTSD sufferer needs to reduce in their life, in order to heal. This may mean not working, in order to commit fully to therapy, as therapy cannot be effective if there is too much stress in the PTSD sufferer’s life.


Financial implications, may arise from PTSD – costs of therapy, reduced income and learning how best to manage finances so they do not become a huge stressor for the PTSD sufferer and their family/partner.


Communication is vital in dealing with PTSD, so keep talking and working through things.




I also found some great information to help people

supporting someone with PTSD at

HealthyGuide.Org HERE




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