Understanding Why PTSD Victims Isolate Themselves And How To Help

People who suffer with PTSD often isolate themselves. 

The way family, friends, co-workers and strangers respond to their behaviors can contribute to further seclusion. Trauma victims turn down offers to socialize for a variety of reasons.

Mostly, they are emotionally and physically exhausted. Just about everything seems annoying and frustrating. Rejection can become frustrating and exasperating.

The saying: why help someone who won’t help themselves comes to mind?

However, it’s necessary to understand that the lack of desire to socialize comes from broken trust. 

Their social boundaries have been destroyed and the comfort that most find in social norms no longer exist.

Trauma victims are easily startled by loud noises, even a book dropping on the floor can cause a frightened response.

They have difficulty concentrating, are irritable and have frequent outbursts of anger due to insomnia.

A normal day no longer exists for someone with PTSD. 

They have a flurry of intrusive mental activity.

The day can be interrupted by all-consuming internal conversations, looming imaginary events that could happen and how they would react just in case or a series of flashbacks of their personal trauma.

Nightmares and night terrors often interrupt sleep. They can even have a string of disturbing dreams in one night, which may keep them up for hours when they wake up.

They unknowingly kick, punch and scream in their sleep.

Of course, sleep deprivation ultimately affects a person’s ability to be in the moment, interact naturally with friends, family and co-workers, and focus on day to day activities.

People with PTSD often become stoic and shut down their emotions. 

It’s difficult for them to sustain any kind of motivation or momentum. They become detached or uninterested in their life or anyone else’s for that matter.

Activities they once enjoyed no longer hold their attention. They don’t care about a future or believe there will even be one.

People often assume that the person doesn’t care.

 That’s not it at all. It’s a self-protective reaction.

Others need to have compassion and gently coax the person out of their shell.

Patience is key for both the victim and those who are close to them.

Isolation is a coping mechanism; but others’ responses can affect the victim’s behavior. 

It can become cyclical and worsen when family, friends, coworkers and strangers misinterpret the actions. Ostracizing and avoidance can be detrimental.

Education and counseling are not just for those who suffer from PTSD, but also for family members, friends, coworkers and the community to help trauma victims overcome their pain and move forward with their lives.

Below is a list of organizations that can offer resources for PTSD.

SAMHSA Treatment Locator provides referrals to low cost/sliding scale mental health care, substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment. Phone: 800-662-4357

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence. Phone: 800-799-7233

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They also provide a chat function on their website. Phone: 800-273-8255

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) provides information on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions. Phone: 240-485-1001

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) provides information and referrals on ADHD, including local support groups. Phone: 800-233-4050

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides information on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support groups and forums. Phone: 800-826-3632

International OCD Foundation provides information on OCD and treatment referrals. Phone: 617-973-5801
 
 National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED) provides up-to-date, reliable and evidence-based information about eating disorders. Phone: 800-931-2237

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) maintains the Schizophrenia Anonymous programs, which are self-help groups and are now available as toll free teleconferences. Phone: 240-423-9432

Sidran Institute helps people understand, manage and treat trauma and dissociation; maintains a helpline for information and referrals. Phone: 410-825-8888

TARA (Treatment and Research Advancements for Borderline Personality Disorder) offers a referral center for information, support, education and treatment options for BPD. Phone: 888-482-7227

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