- Staying Ahead of PTSD: Finding Support Groups or Networks
- List of PTSD Organizations and Resources
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- What if I or someone I know is in crisis?
- Next Steps for PTSD Research
- For More Information
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Chat Room
- PTSD Resources
- PTSD Support Groups
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- How Can I Help My Child?
- Looking Ahead
- The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Psychology Today
- Veteran Service Organizations (VSO)
- Private Veteran-Focused Support Groups
- Service Animal Agencies
- State-Run Departments Of Veterans Affairs
- University Mental Health Studies, Focus Groups, And Clinical Trials
- The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
- The Program of Comprehensive Assistance to Family Caregivers of Post-9/11 Veterans
- New resources to support families and children after traumatic events
- Helping Someone with PTSD
- When someone you care about suffers from PTSD, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. But with these strategies, you can help your loved one move on with their life.
- Helping someone with PTSD tip 1: Provide social support
- Tip 2: Be a good listener
- Tip 3: Rebuild trust and safety
- Tip 4: Anticipate and manage triggers
- Tip 5: Deal with volatility and anger
- Tip 6: Take care of yourself
Staying Ahead of PTSD: Finding Support Groups or Networks
Violeta lived through the Bosnian War. Though she and her family survived the three-year genocide, she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. And because PTSD is a condition that leaves us open to stimuli, and sometimes very sensitive to common or otherwise routine aspects of life, she has recognized that it is important–after seeking help at a professional treatment center–to maintain a healthy, constructive outlook on life. A major part of that outlook can depend on the quality of your support network.
“It is important to remember it’s not your fault,” Violeta said. “These are things like physical and sexual abuse, and war-related trauma. You have to remember that you couldn’t control everything–and you might even slip up in your own thinking later–which is not your fault either. That is why it is good to have a support network, to remind you of these things after leaving treatment.” An invaluable aspect of the Bridges to Recovery program is helping people identify, use, and sustain a support network, during and after treatment, that is responsive to their needs and gives them opportunities to continue the growth that occurs during their stay.
This network does not necessarily have to resemble what we commonly think of when we hear the words “support group.” Many support groups are as we’d imagine–a circle of people talking out their problems. These are usually conducted in the company of a mental health professional, and are very helpful. They also play an indispensable role in life after leaving a residential treatment center. But there are many different kinds of “support groups” out there that need not be so formal, and still offer great outlets for exploring ourselves and putting what is learned through treatment into practice.
“It was important to me to feel like I was not alone in my disorder,” Violeta said. “I knew that I wasn’t, but seeing and talking with others helped in ways I did not predict. Hearing their stories, especially their insights, helped so much.”
List of PTSD Organizations and Resources
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- The AACAP is the leading national professional medical association dedicated to treating and improving the quality of life for children, adolescents, and families affected by mental, behavioral, or developmental disorders
- The AACAP distributes information on mental illness treatment and prevention on its website to help promote understanding and remove stigma
American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress
- The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress is a network of professionals committed to the advancement of intervention for survivors of trauma
- The Academy hopes to increase awareness of the effects of traumatic events and the improved quality of interventions.
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association is an organization of psychiatrists working together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental illness, including substance use disorders.
American Psychological Association
- APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, with more than 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members.
- The APA hopes to educate, promote research, improve the qualifications of psychologists, and encourage the development and applications of psychology in the broadest manner.
American Red Cross
- The American Red Cross is a network of donors, volunteers, and employees whose mission is to prevent and relieving suffering. They deliver vital services and relief in support of those in a crisis.
- The American Red Cross provides access to important information and resources through the website.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- The ADAA is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depressive, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-related disorders through education, practice, and research.
- The ADAA provides professional education webinars, monthly newsletter, list of ADAA’s online database, free online peer-to-peer support groups and many more resources.
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
- ABCT is an organization committed to the enhancement of health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding, assessment, prevention, and treatment of human problems through the global application of behavioral, cognitive, and biological evidence-based principles.
- ABCT provides resources for professionals and students such as journals, videos, fact sheets, etc.
Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS)
AMSUS, The Society of Federal Health Professionals, is a non-profit member-based educational and professional development association serving the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, federal health professionals and their families, our industry partners and advocates for advancing health for all- particularly through interagency collaboration.
Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ASTSS)
The ASTSS provides a forum for extending the understanding, prevention and treatment of major stress and trauma within the Australasian region, and for promoting mental health, resilience, and post-traumatic growth.
The ASTSS provides resources such as treatment guidelines, trauma-focused journals, psychometrics/ tools, and state mental health act.
Canadian Red Cross
- The Canadian Red Cross is ready to act when disasters strike, support those in our communities, prevent injuries and abuse-and-we help save lives, and respond out in the world
Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (formerly the Australian Center for Posttraumatic Mental Health)
- The Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health is an independent, not-for-profit organization with an affiliation with the University of Melbourne which promotes recovery for the 15 million Australian affected by trauma
- The center focuses on research, service development, education, and training in order to understand, promote, and prevent recovery from trauma.
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (USUHS)
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) sustained mission is to advance scientific and academic knowledge, interventions, educational resources and outreach to mitigate the impact of trauma from exposure to war, disasters, terrorism, community violence and public health threats.
The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict, and tragedy.
The Dart Center’s website provides timely articles, expert interviews, journalist-to-journalist advice, tip sheets and other resources.
David Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages
- David Baldwin’s Trauma Information Pages focus on providing information for clinicians and researchers in the traumatic-stress field
- This website includes information about trauma, trauma articles, trauma resources, trauma support, information about disaster mental health, trauma bookstore, and links to other topics
Deutschsprachige Gesellschaft fur Psychotraumatologie
The German Society for Psychotraumatology (DeGPT) is a scientific society that provides a forum for physicians, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychotherapists, as well as representatives of other professional groups involved in psychotherapeutic, medical, pedagogical and counseling with people Trauma disorders work.
European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS)
- The ESTSS promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience about all aspects of psychotraumatology.
- They conduct research, foster best practices, building networks, and contribute to public policy at the European level.
Gateway to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- This website provides links to four national and international organizations, here to help you with articles, references, web-links, mini-courses, 800 phone access, and e-mail pen-pal resources.
- It is provided by the Dart Foundation.
Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma
- The Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT) strive to be comprehensive resources, training and research center dealing with all aspects of violence, abuse, and trauma.
- They focus on collaborations with various partnering organizations and hope to improve current systems of care on a local, national, and global levels.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
- The ICRC’s mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and international violence and to provide them with assistance.
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS)
- The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence.
- It takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies shares information about the effects of trauma, disseminates knowledge about policy, program, and service initiatives
Japanese Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- JSTSS is a professional membership organization devoted to the advancement of understanding of traumatic stress and treatment, through scientific knowledge and clinical experience.
- The Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education, and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing.
- This website provides resources about a variety of information.
Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC)
MIRECCs (Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers) and CoEs (Centers of Excellence) Mission were created to generate new knowledge about the causes and treatments of mental disorders, apply new findings to model clinical programs, and widely disseminate new findings through education to improve the quality of veterans’ lives and their daily functioning in their recovering from mental illness.
Metiv: The Isreal Psychotrauma Center
- A society that gives voice to psychological trauma, and cares for those who have suffered.
- The society provides clinical and other interventions to empower those with traumatic life experiences and increases the recognition and treatment implications for psychological trauma.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
- NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans that are affected by mental illness.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
This unique network of frontline providers, family members, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Center (NCCIH)
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
The mission of the National Center for PTSD is to advance the clinical care and social welfare of America’s Veterans and others who have experienced trauma, or who suffer from PTSD, through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders.
National Center for Victims of Crime
The National Center for Victims of Crime is a non-profit organization that advocates for victims’ rights, trains professionals who work with victims, and serves as a trusted source of information on victims’ issues.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): PTSD
- NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders.
- NIMH’s mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) was incorporated in 1985 by a group of professionals who saw the need to provide information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour.
- PTSD Alliance is an association of advocacy and professional organizations for individuals suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
- Alliance members have made it their mission to increase awareness of this common and serious health condition to PTSD sufferers, their families, and the general public.
PTSD Association of Canada
The PTSD Association of Canada is a not for profit organization that exists to help those experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD and those who care for traumatized individuals, as well as their families, friends and fellow workers and medical community.
PTSD Foundation of America
- The PTSD Foundation of America’s mission is to combat post-traumatic stress disorder by bringing healing, raising awareness, and networking.
PTSD United is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for sufferers of PTSD, their families and caregivers, and anyone interested in learning more about Post Traumatic Stress.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Mental Health Information Center
SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
SIDRAN Institute: Traumatic Stress Education and Advocacy
- Sidran is a non-profit organization of international scope that helps people understand, recover from, and treat traumatic stress, dissociative disorder, and co-occurring issues (addictions, self-injury, and suicidality).
The LifeLine Canada Foundation
- The LifeLine Canada Foundation (TLC) is a registered non-profit committed to positive mental health and suicide prevention in Canada and Worldwide.
- The LifeLine Canada Foundation is committed to suicide reduction across Canada by raising awareness of risk factors, providing access to online resources options, and promoting local programs to build mental health resilience for all.
United States 211 Information and Referral Systems
- The organization is a non-profit professional association made up of individuals and organizations, supporting numerous state and regional affiliates (chapters).
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
The mission of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences is to educate, train, and comprehensively prepare uniformed services health professionals, scientists, and leaders to support the Military and Public Health Systems, the National Security and National Defense Strategies of the United States, and the readiness of our Uniformed Services.
World Health Organization (WHO)
- The WHO works with the United Nations’ system to provide leadership, shape research agenda, set norms and standards, articulate ethical and evidence-based policy options, and provide technical support.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What if I or someone I know is in crisis?
If you are thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, get help immediately:
- In a crisis, an emergency room doctor can provide temporary help and can tell you where and how to get further support.
- Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–TALK (1–800–273–8255); TTY: 1–800–799–4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
- Call your doctor.
- Do not leave the suicidal person alone.
Next Steps for PTSD Research
In the last decade, researchers have focused on understanding the mental and biological foundations of PTSD. They have also been looking at why people experience a range of reactions to trauma. NIMH-funded researchers are working:
- With data from trauma patients in urgent care settings to better understand the changes that occur in individuals who do not recover compared to those whose symptoms improve naturally
- To understand how fear memories are affected by learning, changes in the body, or even sleep
- On preventing the development of PTSD soon after trauma exposure
- To identify what factors determine whether someone with PTSD will respond well to one type of intervention or another, aiming to develop more personalized, effective, and efficient treatments
As gene research and brain imaging technologies continue to improve, reseachers are more likely to be able to pinpoint when and where in the brain PTSD begins. This understanding may then lead to better targeted treatments to suit each person’s own needs or even prevent the disorder before it causes harm.
For more information on PTSD
- Visit the National Library of Medicine’s: MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
- Learn about joining a research study at www.nimh.nih.gov/health/trials/index.shtml
- Search for information on clinical trials for PTSD at https://clinicaltrials.gov (search PTSD)
- Find additional information from NIMH online or receive paper brochures through the mail. You can order free NIMH publications online at www.nimh.nih.gov
- For the most up-to-date information on this topic, please check the NIMH website, www.nimh.nih.gov
This publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from NIMH. Citation of NIMH as a source is appreciated. We encourage you to reproduce it and use it in your efforts to improve public health. However, using government materials inappropriately can raise legal or ethical concerns, so we ask you to use these guidelines:
- NIMH does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services, and our publications may not be used for advertising or endorsement purposes.
- NIMH does not provide specific medical advice or treatment recommendations or referrals; our materials may not be used in a manner that has the appearance of providing such information.
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If you have questions regarding these guidelines and use of NIMH publications, please contact the NIMH Information Resource Center at 1–866–615–6464 or e-mail [email protected]
For More Information
For more information on conditions that affect mental health, resources, and research, visit www.mentalhealth.gov, or the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov. In addition, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus service (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/) has information on a wide variety of health topics, including conditions that affect mental health.
National Institute of Mental Health
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. QF 16–6388
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Chat Room
Welcome to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Chat Room Online Support Community and Health Forums Share | Self Help Aid
HealthfulChat is here to offer you a venue to receive the support you need for post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. HealthfulChat encourages you to join the peer support group we are proposing to you here. You are welcome join our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Chat Room, post traumatic stress disorder forums, and this post traumatic stress disorder social network; join one, two, or all three to begin to be supported by your peers on your way to wellness.
Although HealthfulChat always endorses professional medical help, we believe that there is power in numbers. We also understand that along with the victims of violent crime, and veterans from wars such as Vietnam and Korea, there are a whole new community of veterans who come home only to feel the pain of the battle they thought was over, entering into their home lives. HealthfulChat harbors the philosophy that although medical help is always the correct route to go down, a supportive society of peers is also vital in making you well, and allowing you to enjoy your life again. We encourage you to enter this PTSD arena to meet, greet, share and support with others.
Although post traumatic stress disorder was only classified as an illness in 1980, it has been around as long as human beings have been traumatized. It was referred to as, “soldier’s heart,” or, “combat fatigue,” or the most popular, “shell shock,” to explain why veteran’s, such as army, navy, marine and air force vets returned from the horrors of war seemingly unable to progress with their lives and move through the stress of the experience they endured. PTSD can lead to depression, anxiety and panic attacks; HealthfulChat wishes to enter your life either before these unfortunate side effects of PTSD have hit you, or while you are experiencing them, so that you can unload your thoughts to someone else who understands what it is like to close their eyes and see violence, only to open them back up again and see your spouse’s, parents, friends or children’s worried faces.
Although PTSD has been linked almost primarily to war veterans, anyone who has lived through trauma may develop the disorder. For example, “…10% to as high as 30%,” of rape victims will experience PTSD. Although PTSD is a disorder that affects all who have been traumatized, the African-American community appears to suffer the most, as well as the female population. Further, “5 million people will suffer from PTSD at any one time in the United States…” Considering that the world is populated by over 6 billion people, and this statistic applies only to the United States, imagine how staggering the world wide statistic is.
Self Help AidThe point is that you are not alone in your syndrome. There are many others around the globe who can empathize with your daily struggle, can offer support and a firm shoulder to lean on.
The goal of this post traumatic stress disorder web page is to give anyone ailing with PTSD a chance to link to others worldwide who can accurately understand your daily struggle. Please try the PTSD Chat Room, post traumatic stress disorder forums and the PTSD social network to begin connecting with your peers.
Please Ensure You Have Read the Chat Room Rules Enter Chat Room
Heal My PTSD | Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, causes, treatment, support and education information
PTSD, posttraumatic stress disorder, trauma, PTSD symptoms, PTSD treatment, symptoms of posttraumatic stress, posttraumatic stress disorder syndrome.
The services provided by HealthfulChat are designed to support, not replace any professional medical help you may currently be receiving.
Gift From Within – PTSD Resources
Gift From Within is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those at risk for PTSD, and those who care for traumatized individuals, in order to rekindle hope and restore dignity to trauma survivors.
HelpGuide.org – PTSD & Trauma Resources
“Whether it stems from a personal tragedy, natural disaster, violence, or any other type of disturbing event, trauma can take a huge emotional toll. And while there is no right or wrong way to feel after a traumatic event, there are strategies that can help you work through feelings of pain, fear, and grief and regain your emotional balance. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can find a way to heal and move on with your life.”
H.O.P.E. TBI, or Help One Person to Excel – To Be Independent, is bringing awareness to Polytrauma and Traumatic Brain Injury.
This website has links to online support groups, resources, and educational materials to help promote understanding of these conditions and help those affected to obtain support for depression, anxiety and PTSD.
NIMH – Coping with Traumatic Events
An article from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that describes ways to help children and adolescents cope with traumatic events such as violence and natural disasters with links to additional resources for parents, communities and rescue workers.
A national non-profit organization devoted to education, advocacy and research related to the early recognition and treatment of trauma-related stress in children and the understanding and treatment of adults suffering from trauma-generated disorders.
VeryWellMind.com – PTSD Resources
“Experiencing trauma can have long-lasting effects. Learn to understand your PTSD, explore treatment options, including therapy, and the many ways to cope.”
This collection of medically reviewed articles from VeryWellMind.com was created to help educate those affected by PTSD as to how to better manage and cope with this debilitating condition. Content includes articles that focus on distinguishing different types of PTSD, special considerations for different types of trauma, dispelling trauma myths, and so much more.
PTSD Support Groups
Facebook Groups – NICU PTSD Support Group
A Facebook group for individuals suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression related to Neonatal Intensive Care and the health of a child.
Facebook Groups – Veterans PTSD Project Support Forum
Veterans PTSD Support is one of several peer-support groups moderated by Veterans PTSD Support, an organization that hopes to change the national conversation surrounding PTSD through three distinct missions: outreach and education, mentorship and publication of stories about post-traumatic growth, and support forums which serve as a safe space where members can talk openly and share approved resources. Each forum is managed by a Veterans PTSD Support Team Leader and his or her administrative staff.
Freedom from PTSD
This group was formed to help people find freedom from the symptoms of PTSD and is dedicated to helping those in need and showing them recovery – real recovery – is possible.
Hope Recovery is a Christian-based support program for survivors of trauma and addiction. Support groups meet online and in-person and communicate via newsletters, information and referrals.
Psych Central Forums – Post-traumatic Stress Support
A place for support of people who are coping with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective for people who develop PTSD. This type of therapy teaches ways to replace negative, unhelpful thoughts and feelings with more positive thinking. Behavioral strategies can be used at a child’s own pace to help desensitize the child to the traumatic parts of what happened so he or she doesn’t feel so afraid of them.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) combines cognitive therapy with directed eye movements. This has been shown to be effective in treating people of all ages with PTSD.
Play therapy is used to treat young children with PTSD who can’t directly deal with the trauma.
In some cases, medicine can help treat serious symptoms of depression and anxiety. This can help those with PTSD cope with school and other daily activities while being treated. Medicine often is used only until someone feels better, then therapy can help get the person back on track.
Finally, group therapy or support groups are helpful because they let kids and teens know that they’re not alone. Groups also provide a safe place to share feelings. Ask your child’s therapist for referrals or suggestions.
How Can I Help My Child?
Above all, your child needs your support and understanding. Sometimes other family members like parents and siblings will need support too. While family and friends can play a key role in helping someone recover, help usually is needed from a trained therapist.
Here are some other things parents can do to support kids with PTSD:
- Most kids will need a period of adjustment after a stressful event. During this time, it’s important for parents to offer support, love, and understanding.
- Try to keep kids’ schedules and lives as similar as possible to before the event. This means not allowing your child to take off too much time from school or activities, even if it’s hard at the beginning.
- Let them talk about the traumatic event when and if they feel ready. Praise them for being strong when they do talk about it, but don’t force the issue if they don’t feel like sharing their thoughts. Some kids may prefer to draw or write about their experiences. Either way, encouragement and praise can help them get feelings out.
- Reassure them that their feelings are typical and that they’re not “going crazy.” Support and understanding from parents can help with handling difficult feelings.
- Some kids and teens find it helpful to get involved in a support group for trauma survivors. Look online or check with your pediatrician or the school counselor to find groups nearby.
- Get professional help immediately if you have any concern that a child has thoughts of self-harm. Thoughts of suicide are serious at any age and should be treated right away.
- Help build self-confidence by encouraging kids to make everyday decisions where appropriate. PTSD can make kids feel powerless, so parents can help by showing their kids that they have control over some parts of their lives. Depending on a child’s age, parents might consider letting him or her choose a weekend activity or decide things like what’s for dinner or what to wear.
- Tell them that the traumatic event is not their fault. Encourage kids to talk about any feelings of guilt, but don’t let them blame themselves for what happened.
- Stay in touch with caregivers. It’s important to talk to teachers, babysitters, and other people who are involved in your child’s life.
- Do not criticize regressive behavior (returning to a previous level of development). If children want to sleep with the lights on or take a favorite stuffed animal to bed, it might help them get through this difficult time. Speak to your child’s doctor or therapist if you’re not sure about what is helpful for your son or daughter.
Be sure to also take care of yourself. Helping your child or teen cope with PTSD can be very challenging and may require a lot of patience and support. Time does heal, and getting good support for your family can help everyone move forward.
Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD Date reviewed: July 2018
An Associated Press report states that when the Army did its first mental health study of troops who served in Iraq, it discovered that one in eight returning soldiers had symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Less than half of that number would seek help, the Associated Press states. And a later report from the Department of Veterans Affairs states that in the last decade, PTSD cases among service members has tripled.
The National Institutes Of Health has identified the growing number of PTSD cases in America as “an epidemic”. Also a major concern – dealing with caregiver burnout, fatigue, and stress associated with helping a loved one manage their condition. Not seeking care is one of the worst things a PTSD sufferer can do, but many service members and their families aren’t sure where to begin looking for help.
For Those Who Need Immediate Help
Anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and is struggling with feelings of self-harm or suicide should seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (live online chat is available via the official site) is staffed 24/7 to help those who need help in a crisis.
Military Families Have Resources On Base
One of the closest sources of initial help for a military loved one suffering from the symptoms of PTSD is a base counselor, mental health clinic, or military hospital that provides counseling and mental health services.
While not all military bases have full-service hospitals or inpatient facilities, there is usually some form of mental health treatment available including counseling services, therapists, and in some cases a psychiatrist, or the ability to be referred to one, from the primary care provider.
Some military members are reluctant to use the “official” treatment channels offered on base out of fear of stigma, hurting a career, etc. Ideally the service member should be most concerned with getting help, but it may be a good idea to explore treatment options covered by TRICARE in the local area rather than using a military clinic if there are concerns about getting help through the military medical system.
Department Of Veterans Affairs Resources
The VA official PTSD site has a large number of sections with advice, resources, and explanations of PTSD, its symptoms, and its treatment. This site is not just for those suffering from PTSD and their loved ones, it’s also a resource for medical professionals and mental healthcare providers. You can explore a wide range of materials, videos, advice, and definitions at PTSD.va.gov. The VA site offers articles and information for everyone involved in the process from loved ones to caregivers.
Non-Military PTSD Resources
There are several agencies dedicated to helping families and patients dealing with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder but are not affiliated with the military. When you do a Google search for online resources related to these organizations, be sure to use combinations of search phrases including “veteran,” “PTSD,” and “Local chapter,” or the name of your city or state.
The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)
This organization does not focus on one specific type of condition but does emphasize PTSD. NAMI has state chapters and local affiliates-the affiliates number well over 900 alone. There are local support groups, events, and classes offered to patients and family members alike.
The publication Psychology Today has an official site that features a search tool to help people find PTSD group therapy and support in the user’s local area.
Veteran Service Organizations (VSO)
If you need to be put in touch with a local support group, get assistance filing a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs related to your PTSD experience, or learn more about your options making VA claims or getting VA treatment, a Veteran Service Organization can help. You can find a local chapter of the DAV, VFW, or other veteran-affiliated agencies near you.
Private Veteran-Focused Support Groups
There are many veteran-focused and veteran-run support groups for PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions. The Wounded Warrior Project is a good example, as is This Able Veteran, which is a private, non-profit organization that provides trained service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. Which leads to our next category…
Service Animal Agencies
There are many online resources for those who may need a service animal or comfort animal to help better manage symptoms of PTSD. The agency Service Dogs Of America features a PTSD section on its official site, a good example of a national agency. But many service animal organizations operate on the local level instead, such as PAALS, the Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services agency located in Columbia, South Carolina. Be sure to search for both national and local resources for service animals since you may be required to do in-home interviews, training, etc. to be paired with a service animal.
State-Run Departments Of Veterans Affairs
Your state’s Department of Veterans Affairs or similar state agency will have lists of local resources that can help veterans and families. Some of the resources are state-provided, others may be partnerships between state agencies and local chapters of a VSO. You may find that some states have more extensive resources and help available for vets and families, others may refer patients to the VA system if resources are not as plentiful.
University Mental Health Studies, Focus Groups, And Clinical Trials
Those living in an area served by a research university such as the University of Illinois At Chicago should explore options offered by the university’s medical department where available. You may find there are a range of options including clinical trials and treatments that are in the research phase.
Not everyone will be interested in volunteering for research, focus groups, or experimental treatment options, but many are. Check out your nearest medical department at a college, university, or private campus. One excellent example of the options that involve these organizations is at Columbia University; their Department of Psychiatry advertises the following on its official site:
“We are proud to offer US service members and their family members mental health treatment free of charge. This program is generously funded by a grant from the New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and by a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation”.
This is just one example of the help veterans with PTSD may find in the local area via college-sponsored or college administered programs.
PTSD Apps For Veterans And Families
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site has a page of mobile apps that are designed to help with PTSD (linked to in the sidebar of the main PTSD resources page). They include:
- PTSD Coach – This app is designed to help users learn about coping with the symptoms related to PTSD that commonly occur following trauma.
- PTSD Family Coach – PTSD Family Coach is designed to support family members of those living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Mindfulness Coach – This app helps users to manage PTSD symptoms by “grounding yourself in the present moment”.
- VetChange – An app to help those worried about alcohol use as it relates to PTSD.
- Anger and Irritability Management Skills – A mobile app to help you cope with anger problems. Built for military members, it can be used by anyone who needs to learn more about anger and how to manage angry reactions.
PTSD Caregiver Help
The Department of Veterans Affairs has special programs and support for the caregivers and family members of veterans suffering from PTSD and other medical issues.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
Current spouses and surviving spouses and children of veterans with disabilities who do not qualify for TRICARE may qualify for health insurance through CHAMPVA, which is a cost-sharing program. In the context of our discussion about PTSD, CHAMPVA helps to cover mental health services as well as other medical services-those in need of counseling as a result of caring for a loved one will find this assistance to be quite valuable.
The Program of Comprehensive Assistance to Family Caregivers of Post-9/11 Veterans
Family members taking care of a veteran with VA rated disabilities who were hurt in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001 may qualify for benefits under the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance to Family Caregivers. Qualifying criteria includes the following:
- The veteran has a serious injury which may include traumatic brain injury, psychological trauma, or other mental disorders caused or aggravated by active-duty military service on or after September 11, 2001, and
- Requires personal care services because they can’t perform one or more activities of daily living and/or:
- Requires supervision or protection based on symptoms of lasting neurological damage or injury.
These are just two of the programs available to caregivers via the Department of Veterans Affairs. Contact the VA directly to learn what other options may be open to you.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Help En Espanol
The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers a page for those who need to learn more about PTSD using Spanish-language resources.
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New resources to support families and children after traumatic events
25 July 2017
The Mental Health Foundation in partnership with the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) has produced new resources to help both parents and professional health visitors to support families and children after traumatic events – such as car accidents, violence, illnesses and operations and also large-scale incidents such as those recently at Grenfell Tower and the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. The new Good Practice Points provide evidence-based information for health visitors to help them to support families after a traumatic event, and the new Parent Tips provides information to parents to help them to support their children after such an event.
Traumatic events can be defined as direct or indirect experiences that put either a person or someone close to them at risk of serious harm or death. Children will react in different ways to a traumatic event and how they react may also depend slightly on their age and where they are at in their development. However, whatever their age, they are likely to experience a range of changes in their thinking, emotions, behaviour and physical responses. For most children, these symptoms will go away on their own after a few weeks. However, for 10-30% of children who have experienced a traumatic event, they go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can have adverse long-term effects on child development and adjustment.
Dr Camilla Rosan, who was the lead author on the resources, and Clinical Psychologist at the Mental Health Foundation said: “Experiencing a frightening event can understandably really shake up a family and it can be hard to know what to do for the best. Many families find it particularly challenging to know how to support younger children and infants who might not be able to clearly let you know, or even be aware, how the traumatic event might have affected them. We hope that these materials will help reassure professionals and families that changes are completely normal and, for most children, will not continue beyond a few weeks. However, for those that do not get better on their own, it reaffirms the importance of seeking professional mental health support and accessing evidence-based treatments.”
Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, commented: “With more than two thirds of children experiencing at least one traumatic event by the time they are 16 years old, we need to be able to provide good support to them and their families. Through mandated contacts with families, health visitors build good trusted relationships with all families and are, therefore, well placed to provide guidance and support at these difficult times. We very much hope that this new guidance will help both families and health visitors manage these enormously challenging circumstances with more knowledge of what will help.”
Share With Others
VFU is a not-for-profit organization that offers a comprehensive website and resource bank for identifying and helping veterans and families who may need assistance in understanding and coping with war-related illness. Financial resources are not available, but information on how to access benefits and assistance is easily found on the website.
Military One Source
You may call this number and request to speak to a counselor. Contracted mental health counselors will confidentially speak with you about your concerns and offer targeted information that can help deal with difficult situations. This is an excellent source for immediate 24/7 person-to-person information. You can also ask about contact information to your local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War or Disabled American Veterans resources who can be advocates for you.
National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
This VA link has specific information about PTSD, including assessments, information sheets for families and where to get assistance. This site is good for information and research but does not offer immediate assistance.
PTSD United, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources for sufferers of PTSD, their friends and family, and anyone else interested in learning more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Our primary method of helping PTSD sufferers is through our free, completely anonymous online social community, which is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week where people can go to connect with others living with PTSD – See more at:
Suicide Prevention Action Network
www.spanusa.org and www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
SPAN is a not-for-profit organization that offers timely and helpful information for suicide prevention, offering a checklist and resources for prevention and intervention.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
This newly developed link for veteran’s issues describes common mental health issues and resources for veterans and families who may be in need. An extensive list of resources is available.
Helping Someone with PTSD
When someone you care about suffers from PTSD, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. But with these strategies, you can help your loved one move on with their life.
PTSD can take a heavy toll on relationships. It can be hard to understand your loved one’s behavior—why they are less affectionate and more volatile. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells or living with a stranger. You may have to take on a bigger share of household tasks, deal with the frustration of a loved one who won’t open up, or even deal with anger or disturbing behavior. The symptoms of PTSD can also lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family.
It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but it’s important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved one’s nervous system is “stuck” in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off. With the right support from friends and family, though, your loved one’s nervous system can become “unstuck” and they can finally move on from the traumatic event.
It’s common for people with PTSD to withdraw from friends and family. While it’s important to respect your loved one’s boundaries, your comfort and support can help the person with PTSD overcome feelings of helplessness, grief, and despair. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.
Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isn’t always easy. You can’t force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.
Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they don’t. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.
Do “normal” things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to participate in rhythmic exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies that bring pleasure. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
Let your loved one take the lead, rather than telling him or her what to do. Everyone with PTSD is different but most people instinctively know what makes them feel calm and safe. Take cues from your loved one as to how you can best provide support and companionship.
Manage your own stress. The more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help your loved one.
Be patient. Recovery is a process that takes time and often involves setbacks. The important thing is to stay positive and maintain support for your loved one.
Educate yourself about PTSD. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one, understand what they are going through, and keep things in perspective.
Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings—some of which you’ll never want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
Tip 2: Be a good listener
While you shouldn’t push a person with PTSD to talk, 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. It’s the act of listening attentively that is helpful to your loved one, not what you say.
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.
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 or judgmental, they are unlikely to open up to you again.
Communication pitfalls to avoid
- Give easy answers or blithely tell your loved one everything is going to be okay
- Stop your loved one from talking about their feelings or fears
- Offer unsolicited advice or tell your loved one what they “should” do
- Blame all of your relationship or family problems on your loved one’s PTSD
- Invalidate, minimize, or deny your loved one’s traumatic experience
- Give ultimatums or make threats or demands
- Make your loved one feel weak because they aren’t coping as well as others
- Tell your loved one they were lucky it wasn’t worse
- Take over with your own personal experiences or feelings
Tip 3: Rebuild 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. If there’s any way you can rebuild your loved one’s sense of security, it will contribute to their recovery.
Express your commitment to the relationship. Let your loved one know that you’re here for the long haul so they feel loved and supported.
Create routines. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security to people with PTSD, both adults and children. Creating routines could involve getting your loved one to help with groceries or housework, for example, maintaining regular times for meals, or simply “being there” for the person.
Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your loved one has space and time for rest and relaxation.
Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among people with PTSD that their future is limited.
Keep your promises. Help rebuild trust by showing that you’re trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on what you say you’re going to do.
Emphasize your loved one’s strengths. Tell your loved one you believe they’re capable of recovery and point out all of their positive qualities and successes.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
Tip 4: Anticipate and manage triggers
A trigger is anything—a person, place, thing, or situation—that reminds your loved one 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, such as hearing a song that was playing when the traumatic event happened, for example, so now that song or even others in the same musical genre are triggers. Similarly, triggers don’t have to be external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.
Common external PTSD triggers
- Sights, sounds, or smells associated with the trauma
- People, locations, or things that recall the trauma
- Significant dates or times, such as anniversaries or a specific time of day
- Nature (certain types of weather, seasons, etc.)
- Conversations or media coverage about trauma or negative news events
- Situations that feel confining (stuck in traffic, at the doctor’s office, in a crowd)
- Relationship, family, school, work, or money pressures or arguments
- Funerals, hospitals, or medical treatment
Common internal PTSD triggers
- Physical discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, and sexual frustration
- Any bodily sensation that recalls the trauma, including pain, old wounds and scars, or a similar injury
- Strong emotions, especially feeling helpless, out of control, or trapped
- Feelings toward family members, including mixed feelings of love, vulnerability, and resentment
Talking to your loved one about PTSD triggers
Ask your loved one about how they may have coped with triggers in the past in response to an action that seemed to help (as well as those that didn’t). Then you can come up with a joint game plan for how you will respond in future.
Decide with your loved one how you should respond when they have 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 someone having 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.
- Tell your loved one they’re having a flashback and that even though it feels real, the event is not actually happening again
- Help remind them of their surroundings (for example, ask them to look around the room and describe out loud what they see)
- Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths (hyperventilating will increase feelings of panic)
- Avoid sudden movements or anything that might startle them
- Ask before you touch them. Touching or putting your arms around the person might make them feel trapped, which can lead to greater agitation and even violence
Tip 5: Deal 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.
People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means they’re constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung out—increasing the likelihood that they’ll overreact to day-to-day stressors. For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.
Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.
Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are “safe,” and prevent the situation from escalating.
Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.
Ask how you can help. For example: “What can I do to help you right now?” You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.
Put safety first. If the person gets more upset despite your attempts to calm him or her down, leave the house or lock yourself in a room. Call 911 if you fear that your loved one may hurt himself or others.
Help your loved one manage their anger. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences on a person’s relationships, health, and state of mind. Your loved one can get anger under control by exploring the root issues and learning healthier ways to express their feelings.
Tip 6: Take care of yourself
Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout and may even lead to secondary traumatization. You can develop your own trauma symptoms from listening to trauma stories or being exposed to disturbing symptoms like flashbacks. The more depleted and overwhelmed you feel, the greater the risk is that you’ll become traumatized.
In order to have the strength to be there for your loved one over the long haul and lower your risk for secondary traumatization, you have to nurture and care for yourself.
Take care of your physical needs: get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat properly, and look after any medical issues.
Cultivate your own support system. Lean on other family members, trusted friends, your own therapist or support group, or your faith community. Talking about your feelings and what you’re going through can be very cathartic.
Make time for your own life. Don’t give up friends, hobbies, or activities that make you happy. It’s important to have things in your life that you look forward to.
Spread the responsibility. Ask other family members and friends for assistance so you can take a break. You may also want to seek out respite services in your community.
Set boundaries. Be realistic about what you’re capable of giving. Know your limits, communicate them to your family member and others involved, and stick to them.
Support for people taking care of veterans
If the person you’re caring for is a military veteran, financial and caregiving support may be available. In the U.S., visit VA Caregiver Support to explore your options, or call Coaching into Care at (888) 823-7458. For families of military veterans in other countries, see the section below for online resources.
Written by Natasha Tracy
In addition to PTSD medications and therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) help can come in the form of community resources and PTSD support groups. Family members of those with PTSD may also benefit from these PTSD recovery resources.
Many people feel alone with their PTSD, or other type of anxiety disorder, and part of PTSD recovery often includes understanding that many people are suffering in the same ways as you. Millions of people are living with post-traumatic stress disorder and many of them help each other every day. Feeling connected with a group of people who truly understand what it is to suffer from PTSD can be a powerful form of PTSD help.
Veterans have additional post-traumatic stress disorder help available through Veteran’s Affairs (the VA) and other veteran groups. Veteran PTSD support groups can be particularly useful for those suffering from military-service-related PTSD, as veterans may feel like those who have not served do not truly understand what they are feeling.
In-Person PTSD Help
In-person PTSD help can be received from anyone in the life of a person suffering from PTSD. You may find it through:
• Friends and family
• Faith leaders and groups
• Community organizations
• Outpatient programs
• Veteran’s Affairs medical centers – all offer PTSD treatment
• Veteran organizations (in the case of those having served in the military)
Formal PTSD recovery groups are also available. Some of these groups are dedicated to PTSD recovery and others focus on anxiety disorders in general. Find post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) support groups and help through:
• Anxiety Disorder Association of America (ADAA) offers self-help information online as well as information on PTSD support groups
• ADAA also offers information on finding a therapist for anxiety disorders
• National Center for PTSD provides further information on finding a PTSD recovery therapist
• Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) offers a program locator which allows searching for PTSD recovery treatment programs by state
• The VA National Center for PTSD also offers several help options for those who have served in the military
PTSD Support Groups Online
In-person PTSD help may not be available everywhere and some people may not feel comfortable seeking in-person help; this is where online help comes in. PTSD recovery information and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) support groups are plentiful online.
You can find online post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) help and support through:
• HealthyPlace PTSD forums
• Anxiety Disorder Association of America offers online forums as well as self-help information: http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/self-help-publications
• PTSD Forums provide online PTSD peer support groups
• Daily Strength provides online PTSD peer support groups
• Mental Health of America provides online PTSD information for the general public and for veterans specifically
• National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides support and programs
• National Center for PTSD provides online PTSD information for the general public as well as veterans specifically