Many people with PTSDas well as family members and friends caring for a loved one who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorderfind support groups helpful. According to the National Center for PTSD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, although peer support groups do not reduce PTSD symptoms and are not a substitute for posttraumatic stress disorder treatment, they often help people struggling with the disorder to feel better. Connecting with other people who have experienced a traumatic event can be beneficial during and/or after PTSD treatment.
Peer support groups are led by people who also have experienced trauma. These groups, which meet in person or online, provide a safe environment where PTSD sufferers and caregivers can share their stories, listen to the experiences of others, and discuss their daily problems and concerns.
Whether you're comfortable talking about your personal experiencesor prefer listening to othersa peer support group can help you cope with traumatic memories, deal with fear and other emotions, and manage the challenges of daily life better. Belonging to a support group also can make it easier to ask for help if you need it.
Peer Support Group Benefits
For PTSD sufferers, family members, friends, and caregivers, peer support groups can be helpful in the following ways:
- Assure you that others are going through a similar experience
- Allow you to connect with other people who may better understand what you're going through and share different perspectives
- Provide an opportunity to ask for help or discuss things that bother you
- Encourage you to trust others
- Learn tips for handling every day challenges
How to Find a PTSD Peer Support Group
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommends beginning with an online search to find a peer support group in your area or on the Internet. Try using the search terms, "PTSD support groups," "disaster support groups," or "[name of traumatic event] support groups." Your health care provider or mental health professional also may be able to connect you with groups in your area or online.
Other resources include the following:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers a list of support groups across the country for a number of different mental health conditions.
- Sidran Institute does not offer clinical care or counseling, but Help Desk can help locate support groups for people who have experienced trauma.
- National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Information HelpLine provides support, referral and information on mental illness care. Or find family support groups in a NAMI state or local affiliate by calling 1.800.950.6264 (NAMI).
- Helping a Family Member Who Has PTSD from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs