70 percent of the adult population in the US has had some sort of experience that they would call traumatic. Out of this percentage – which equates to about 223.4 million people, 20 percent goes on to develop PTSD, with 8 percent actively suffering from the disorder.
This estimate comes to about 24.4 million people.
PTSD also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder usually occurs after a person has been through a trauma. Although initially mistaken to be only related to veterans and soldiers with experience in the field, PTSD is not just limited to those in the armed forces who have fought in Wars. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD can happen to anyone.
People are more likely to suffer from PTSD as a result of physical assault, experiencing an accident, a disaster or witnessing a death or an injury. Although women and children have the added risk of sexual abuse and assault.
PTSD is classified as a disorder a person experiences due to trauma. The misconception that it is some sort of a weakness on the person’s part is highly improbable. In fact, a clinical analysis of PTSD states that any person – when subject to a catastrophic stressor – will have adverse psychological responses, especially since those stressors would be outside of the range of normal human experience.
As a caregiver for someone with PTSD, you need to know these details.
How is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosed?
As a caregiver, you must be aware of the different symptoms of PTSD and how they affect behavior. Typically, those with a physical injury due to a traumatic event will display several symptoms of the disorder some timer after the incident has occurred.
This could take days, weeks, months and even years. A trigger such as a certain scene, noise, words or even a smell may push that person over the edge.
The main symptom that’s most common amongst people is that they re-experience the traumatic event. Or rather, their body experiences it as their brain catches up. So for some people, a trigger may cause them to have a strong physical reaction. This would include sweating, muscle tension, rapid breathing, pounding heart and nausea etc. The person may have flashbacks and nightmares. They may re-experience those upsetting memories and would have strong feelings of distress that would remind them of the traumatic event.
Experiencing Anxiety and Depression
Revisiting these painful memories may push the person suffering into a sense of depression. They’d experience anxiety and depressive symptoms such as detachment, memory loss, insomnia, and irritability, negative moods, and emotional numbness, loss of interest in everyday routine and sensory overload. This may make them feel hyper vigilant, jumpy and aggressive. They may also feel alone and alienated. They may even feel shame or guilt at allowing themselves to be affected by the incident. They would also blame themselves for whatever they’re going through.
Being a Caregiver to Someone with PTSD
Caregivers need to keep several factors in mind when attending to individuals with PTSD. Aside from being as understanding as possible about the disorder through learning, other things you can do include:
· Encourage Your Client to Seek Mental Health Treatment
Mental health treatment is an essential part of the PTSD recovery process. However, convincing someone to agree to mental health treatment can be tricky, especially if their decision is based on pre-conceived notions about the field. Use informational resources to explain how treatments can be so useful. And be respectful if it takes a bit of time for them to understand the need for treatment.
· Request to Be a Part of their Treatment
If it’s possible, ask your client if they’d agree for you to accompany them to their treatment sessions. Talk to the mental health specialist about anything you can do to make this journey better. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes. Be proactive in your client’s treatment.
· Understand their Good Days and Bad Days
People with PTSD may go through a withdrawal period. They may have good days when they’ll be sociable and supportive. But other days, they may need some time to themselves to work through some stuff. Recognize the signs and try to give them what they need. Build a relationship with your client’s friends and family and ask them for support.
· Be Careful of a Relapse
Changes in how they think, their mood and their behavior can tell you a lot about whether they may suffer through a relapse. Pay close attention to their moods if they’re going through a bad phase and keep emergency contact numbers handy in case you need extra help.
· Be Serious About Suicide
If your client starts talking about suicide, seek help immediately. Talking about suicide is not just a symptom. This thinking is something that pushes people over the edge. Take it seriously and contact a crisis hotline and the client’s therapist. Ask them for help.
· Pay Attention to Your Health
According to the AARP, caregivers can also suffer from PTSD. Having taken care of someone through the harsher times in their lives, these days can have an acute effect on the caregiver’s own mental health as well. Find a caregiver support forum and use resources to build your confidence. Take some time off and get mental health treatment as well. Focus on your health before you take care of someone else.
How We Can Help!
Being a caregiver can be challenging, especially if you have a sensitive client. Learning how to support them and gaining their trust can help you be better at your job.
The Global Caregiver can help you accomplish that.
Our caregiving counseling services cater to caregivers worldwide. We provide proper coaching and guidance services and use informational resources and present seminars to introduce caregivers to different methods of healthcare.
Learn more about caregiving by contacting us. Buy “The Beverley Method” written by The Global Caregiver founder Beverly Shungu-Omba to build your confidence and skills.