When something bad or scary happens,

You might feel nervous, replay the situation in your mind, and/or have a difficult time sleeping. These are common reactions that usually decrease as time passes and you eventually go back to your daily routines. However, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that develops from being exposed to trauma. It usually involves exposure to serious injury, threat of death, death, sexual violence, and/or abuse. People with PTSD usually re-experience the traumatic events in the form of nightmares, thoughts, or flashbacks that can be triggered by objects or actions that remind them of the event.

teenager with long red hair biting their nails in an allyway

PTSD Facts for Families

When an adolescent or child experiences a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, violence, sexual abuse, car accident, or diagnosis of a life threatening illness, they may seem:

  • Confused
  • Helpless
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Horrified
  • Fearful
  • In Denial
  • Annoyed

This is a very helpful guide for what PTSD looks like in children and youth:


hand on top of a plaid red cloth that has writing on it. Each finger has a word: CARE, SAFETY, STRENGTH, LOVE, and HELP. The palm says "HOLD ME I AM YOUR"


If you know someone with PTSD, the worst thing you could do is tell that person to get over it. They might already feel guilt and shame because they feel like they should be over it by now. Meanwhile, some people may feel as though the traumatic event(s) was their fault. While you may want to help you loved ones find a solution by giving advice, it’s better for you to offer your support through their process towards recovery instead. Here are things you can do to help a loved one if they’ve been diagnosed with PTSD:

  • Learn more about PTSD, so you can better understand what they’re going through
  • Be available to listen and let them know that you’re there even when they aren’t ready to talk about it
  • Remember that it’s not about you when your loved one has an anger outburst to something that is a minor problem.
  • Ask how you can help
  • Take care of yourself because this can also take a toll on your mental health. Here is a guideline to help you build a self-care plan. If you don’t take care of yourself, it may be difficult for you to support your loved one.

Suffering from PTSD is difficult, but it makes it a little easier when the right support is there from friends, family, counsellors, and physicians. There are many forms of treatment for PTSD. Contact your healthcare provider for resources.

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