How to help someone with a flashback

This came up on my Facebook feed as a memory.  I felt it was a good reminder for friends and family of someone with PTSD.  Holidays often have multiple triggers attached to events.

Plan ahead for possibilities and share possible coping skills to those you trust to help. Really, touch can be another layer of trigger.  Always ask before touching a survivor.  Check in with them to make sure they are still ok with touching them.  Please, don’t be surprised if they suddenly push you away.  Flashbacks are extremely difficult and hard to know which is now and what was then.  Time ceases to make sense.  Logic is thrown out the window.  Survival becomes the focus.

How to help in the middle of a flashback or panic attack

During a flashback, people often feel a sense of disassociation, as if they’re detached from their own body. Anything you can do to “ground” them will help.

Tell them they’re having a flashback and that even though it feels real, it’s not actually happening again

Help remind them of their surroundings (for example, ask them to look around the room and describe out loud what they see)

Encourage them to take deep, slow breaths (hyperventilating will increase feelings of panic)

Avoid sudden movements or anything that might startle them

Ask before you touch them. Touching or putting your arms around the person might make him or her feel trapped, which can lead to greater agitation

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