What do you do if a family member has post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD?  The National Center for PTSD, US Department of Veterans Affairs has outlined some steps that may be helpful. 

  • Educate yourself. The National Center has a wealth of materials, including an explanation of what it is, symptoms, and treatment options.  Of note is a guide for family and friends and a video about appropriate treatments.
  • Communicate. State that you are supportive and that you know that PTSD does not define him/her as a person.
  • Show support. The National Center suggests strategies for showing support such as accompanying the family member to appointments, tracking medications, and allowing him/her to learn how to handle symptoms associated with PTSD.
  • Encourage treatment. Talk with the family member about seeking evidence-based treatment.  Some people will resist treatment but may be amenable to medications.  Medications work best in tandem with evidence-based treatment.
  • Additional resources. The National Center offers Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), which is a free, web-based, self-paced course including strategies and resources.  The VA offers a toll-free telephone service, 1-888-823-7458, for family members called Coaching into Care, which assists family members learn how to help their Veteran.