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  • Dr. Carrie

Family surviving a loved one in a critical incident

What to expect when someone you love has been involved in a critical incident or has developed PTSD:

  • Loved ones often feel confusion- why can’t their loved one “get over” the incident

  • Dealing with unpredictable moods from the trauma survivor, finding new causes or “triggers” make it worse)

  • Loved ones feels that they have to “tiptoe around” or are “walking on eggshells” around the PTSD survivor

  • The trauma survivor can shows extreme emotions and sensitivity (even to little things)

  • Loved ones often feel frustration and powerlessness towards the PTSD survivor

  • Loved ones can feel anger and aggression towards the PTSD survivor especially if they are aggressive towards you

  • If the PTSD survivor does not confide in you, you can feel hurt but this is often normal

  • Sometimes the loved ones do not want to know or hear about the trauma as is it horrifying to them

  • Loved ones can feel guilt- why is the survivor avoiding me, having flashbacks, or not talking to me…often times they feel “What am I doing wrong?”

  • Loss of intimacy- trauma survivors often isolate themselves or are more distant than before

  • The trauma survivors often isolate themselves and make their world smaller (talk to less people, go to less places, etc.)

  • Trauma survivors often have sleep disruption (sleep erratic, shorter hours, nightmares, odd times, etc.)

  • Often loved ones can sacrifice their goals, enjoyment, or friendships to accommodate the trauma survivor which can lead to resentment

  • Changes in the trauma survivor can alter the nature of their relationship and the loved one can feel disappointment and loss

  • Loved ones often feel worry, anxiety, and sadness about the trauma survivor

  • Loved ones may have a variety of emotions and that is also normal

What you can do to help yourself

  • Get appropriate amount of sleep, sleep at regular times

  • Eat healthy (lots of fruits, vegetable, and whole foods)

  • Exercise

  • Relax/Have fun

  • Take time for yourself/socialize

  • Get social support

  • Set appropriate limits

  • Communicate assertively 1) say clearly what is bothering you, 2) tell the other person how their behavior affect you, 3) state what you would like to be changed, 4) offer a compromise or describe the consequence/limits of your ability

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