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How To Communicate With Someone With PTSD

How To Communicate With Someone With PTSD– Understanding PTSD Is The Key 

According to the National Center for PTSD, around 6 of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a deeply isolating experience, not just for those who have it but also for the loved ones who want to support them.  

At Compassionify, we believe in empowering both individuals and their support systems. Here, we’ll explore key communication strategies that can help you build trust and ultimately become a source of strength for someone you care about who is living with PTSD.

How To Communicate With Someone With PTSD? 

Creating a Comfortable Space for Talking

A calm and distraction-free space can go a long way in helping them feel relaxed and secure.

Respecting their boundaries is also crucial. Don’t pressure them to talk about their trauma. They’ll open up when they’re comfortable.

Moreover, avoid sounding angry or forceful. Instead, focus on actively listening. Pay close attention to what they’re saying and let them know their feelings are valid. Don’t interrupt or try to fix things.

Active Listening

Put away distractions and truly concentrate on their words. Maintain eye contact (if comfortable) and nod occasionally to show you’re engaged.

Acknowledge their feelings. Simple phrases like “That sounds overwhelming” or “That must have been incredibly difficult” show you understand. Avoid minimizing their experience or dismissive comments.

PTSD can cause varied reactions. Avoid criticism or judgment. Instead, focus on their perspective. Ask clarifying questions to understand their experience better without implying they’re wrong or overreacting.

Open and Honest Communication

Avoid vague statements or beating around the bush. Speak plainly and directly about what you want to say.

Stick to straightforward language and avoid jokes or sarcasm that might be taken the wrong way.

Let them know you care and are there for them. “I’m here for you” or “You’re not alone in this” are two phrases that can be quite effective.

Start With Casual Topics

Begin with lighthearted topics or shared interests to create a sense of comfort and normalcy before delving into sensitive issues.

Don’t pressure them to talk about their trauma. Sometimes, they might simply want to chat about their day. If you do want to discuss something potentially triggering, ask permission first. Words such as “Is it okay if we talk about something difficult?” Alternatively, “Would you be comfortable discussing X?” Give them authority over the discourse and respect their boundaries.

Responding to Triggers

Their emotions might escalate during a trigger. Stay calm and offer reassurance. Use a soothing tone and let them know you’re there for them.

Gently remind them they are safe in the present moment. Phrases like “You’re safe here” or “This is a flashback, not reality” can be grounding.

Understanding PTSD And Its Symtomps

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness that can develop after being involved in or witnessing a horrific event. It’s normal to feel stressed and upset after a trauma, but with time and support, most people recover. However, for those with PTSD, these feelings don’t fade. They may experience:

  • Flashbacks or unwanted thoughts about the trauma.
  • Avoiding events, people, or places that bring up the trauma.
  • Feeling fearful, hopeless, or angry.
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling disconnected from loved ones.
  • Difficulty sleeping, irritability, or hypervigilance (being constantly on edge).

If you suspect someone you care about may have PTSD, encourage them to seek professional help. A therapist can provide support and develop a treatment plan to manage their symptoms and help them heal.

Managing Anger Outbursts in PTSD

Safety First:

If someone with PTSD is an immediate threat, call emergency services. Don’t hesitate.

De-escalate with Empathy:

Forget yelling. Speak calmly, acknowledge them, and create a safe space (quiet room, removing yourself if safe). Research from the Anxiety and Disorders Association of America (ADAA) suggests that people with anxiety, which often co-occurs with PTSD, respond better to calm and empathetic communication.

Identify Triggers (if possible):

Loud noises, smells, crowds – seemingly harmless things can trigger PTSD outbursts. Identify potential triggers to avoid similar situations or create a calming plan.

Focus on Calming Techniques:

The National Center for PTSD recommends various techniques for managing PTSD symptoms, including anger outbursts. Help them use established coping mechanisms like deep breathing, muscle relaxation, or mindfulness exercises. Suggest simple options like breath counting or cool water on the face if they lack them.

Patience is Key:

De-escalation takes time. Be patient and avoid judgment. Their anger stems from trauma, not you.

Seek Professional Help:

A therapist specializing in PTSD can create a personalized plan to address the trauma and teach healthy anger management. Look for therapists trained in CBT or EMDR, effective for treating PTSD and anger.

Some Resources to Help

You build trust and foster a deeper connection by creating a safe space through active listening, clear communication, and respect for boundaries. This connection is vital for their healing journey. Here are some resources that can offer additional support:

  • National Mental Health Hotline: 1-866-903-3787 (This hotline can connect you to mental health resources in your area)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 (Offers 24/7 crisis counseling and support)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for confidential crisis support
  • National Center for PTSD
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America


So, how to communicate with someone with PTSD? The answer lies in creating a safe space through active listening, clear communication, and respect for their boundaries. By following the tips outlined above, you can build trust, foster a deeper connection, and become a source of strength for them on their healing journey.

Remember, you’re not alone in supporting someone with PTSD.


How do you talk to someone with PTSD?

Be patient, listen actively, and validate their feelings. Avoid pressuring them to talk about the trauma.

What are the 7 symptoms of PTSD?

Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance of triggers, negative thoughts, hypervigilance, and increased arousal.

What communication techniques work well with PTSD patients?

Speak clearly and calmly, be respectful of boundaries, and ask permission before touching.

How do you make someone with PTSD feel loved?

Making them feel loved: Show them you care consistently and offer support without judgment.

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