When to Worry: Recognizing Signs of Post Traumatic Stress in Your Loved Ones

Over the past several years, there have been numerous traumatic events all across the country. From incidents of mass violence to devastating natural disasters, hundreds of thousands of Americans have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event. In addition to tragedies such as these, anyone who has experienced other acute trauma (such as a car accident, birth/medical trauma) is at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is condition that may require medical treatment. It can impact relationships, friendships and career. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, here are some signs to be aware of:

Reliving the Trauma

People living with PTSD may have repeated, involuntary re-experiencing of the event. They may have bad dreams or flashbacks. They’re also vulnerable to certain triggers that remind them of what happened, such as sounds or smells.

Angry Outbursts

Those who have experienced a trauma may be prone to anger, agitation, irritability or sadness.


People living with PTSD may avoid people and situations that are reminders of the traumatic experience.  Friends/family may react negatively and inadvertently contribute to  additional emotional distress.

Substance Dependence/Misuse

It’s not uncommon for people living with PTSD to seek an escape from high levels of stress and overwhelming emotions; they may turn to drugs or alcohol.

If you’re concerned that a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, the most important thing you can do is encourage them to seek professional support and treatment.  You can help by contacting offices and vetting therapists on their behalf.  If you can, try to find a therapist that has specific training related to trauma (such as EMDR or Trauma Focused CBT) and volunteer to take them to an appointment. Assure them of your love and support throughout the process.

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out for a free 15 minute consultation!