How to Deal With Someone With PTSD Pushing You Away

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can truly change a person. It can leave them feeling anxious, paranoid, and constantly on edge. And when you have a loved one who suffers from PTSD, it can be tough to navigate how to help them without feeling like you are intruding or being pushed away. The first step in being there for someone with PTSD is to understand the condition and the best ways to help them. This post will go over what PTSD is, how it affects a person, and what you can do when someone with PTSD pushes you away.

Educate Yourself About PTSD

The first step in helping someone with PTSD is to understand what it is and how it affects those who are diagnosed with it. PTSD is a mental health condition caused by exposure to a traumatic event or events such as war, sexual assault, accidents, and disasters. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, anxiety, anger, and depression. It’s important to study the signs and understand the nuances of the condition. This will help you recognize the symptoms and reactions of your loved one and know when to intervene.

Be Patient

People with PTSD can be hard to approach; pushing people away and breaking away from social gatherings is common. It’s essential to not take such actions personally. When someone with PTSD pushes you away, it’s their trauma affecting how they currently feel about themselves, their surroundings, or the people around them. Make sure to not push them further, instead, be patient and understanding because it’s often challenging for them to open up and share.

Be a Calming Presence

The nature of anxiety associated with PTSD can cause a person to feel on edge. Providing a calming presence to someone with PTSD can soothe their anxieties. Understand that loud sounds, raised voices, or unexpected actions can set off a person with PTSD, so when you’re around them try to stay as calm, composed, and patient as possible.

Offer Help

There’s no single remedy that will work for everyone with PTSD. But, one thing that can be comforting is when the person knows they have someone there for them without judgment. You can offer help, talk to them gently, and let them know they have someone to talk to about their situation. It’s best to offer help without expecting anything in return. Doing so ensures your loved one doesn’t feel any pressure, which can lead to them pushing you away even further.

Get Professional Help

PTSD can be very debilitating, so it’s essential to get professional help when necessary. A mental health professional can help your loved one overcome their struggles, and assist you in knowing how you can be there for them. You can offer to look up and help book appointments. If your loved one is open to the idea of seeing a professional, consider going with them to appointments in case they feel overwhelmed.

Understand the Triggers

Understanding what triggers your loved one can significantly assist in managing their PTSD symptoms. Triggers could be anything from certain sounds, places, or even smells that remind them of the traumatic event. By identifying these triggers, you can help avoid or manage situations that might cause distress.

Emphasise Open Communication

Open communication is essential when dealing with someone with PTSD. Encourage them to express their feelings and fears, but never pressure them into speaking if they’re not ready. Your patience and understanding can foster a supportive environment for them.

Promote Physical Health

Promote the importance of regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep, as these can impact a person’s mental health significantly. Encourage your loved one to engage in activities that they enjoy and find relaxing.

Support Social Connections

Encourage your loved one to maintain connections with their social network. Friends, family, and support groups can provide an additional layer of support and understanding.

Encourage Self-Care

Self-care is crucial for someone dealing with PTSD. Encourage them to take time for themselves, engage in hobbies they enjoy, and practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

Respect Their Space

You must respect their need for space when they desire it. They should feel free to express when they need time alone without fearing judgment or disappointment.

Avoid Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can exacerbate PTSD symptoms. Encourage your loved one to avoid alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms and seek healthier alternatives.

Combat Negative Thoughts

Help your loved one combat negative thoughts by reminding them of their strengths and past successes. Reinforce that it’s okay to seek help and that they’re not alone in their struggle.

Educate Others

Educating others about PTSD can foster understanding and patience within your loved one’s broader social circle. This can help reduce misconceptions and stigma associated with the condition.

Plan Ahead

Having a plan in place for when a PTSD episode occurs can be very reassuring for both you and your loved one. This plan may include contact details for their mental health professional, or steps to take to help them feel safe and grounded.

Encourage Routine

A regular routine can provide a sense of normalcy and control, which can be comforting for someone dealing with PTSD. Encourage your loved one to establish and maintain a daily routine.

Foster a Peaceful Environment

Creating a peaceful environment can help reduce anxiety and make your loved one feel safe and comfortable. This could involve reducing noise levels, soft lighting, or including comforting items such as blankets or family photos.

Be Aware of Suicide Risk

People with PTSD are at a higher risk of suicide. Be vigilant for warning signs and don’t hesitate to seek immediate professional help if you believe your loved one is at risk.

Understand Recovery Takes Time

Lastly, understand that recovery is not linear and takes time. There may be setbacks along the way, but every small step forward is significant. Be patient, continue to offer support, and remind your loved one that they are strong and capable.


If you’re in a friendship or relationship with someone who has PTSD, they may not always seem open or approachable. But by understanding their condition, being patient, staying calm, offering help without expectation, and helping them find professional help, you can support them through their journey and help them regain track with the people and world around them. Remember to always lead with patience and understanding, and if you’re not sure what to do, ask your loved one, and together take the best steps to recovery.