While this blog post focuses on social isolation in PTSD survivors, this is not the only group who suffers from this. If you are battling depression or any other trauma event I hope that you can also find this blog post helpful.
Social isolation in PTSD Survivors is common. Especially those who are also suffering from a little of survivor’s guilt. There’s a reason for this and it’s not because they want to be alone. During the research for my novel series, I stumbled across valuable information that I believe could benefit survivors and those who care for them. Pertaining specific to social isolation, here are some of the reasons why survivors social isolate themselves: avoidance, disinterest, depression and detachment, and exhaustion.
Avoidance is one of the symptomatic coping mechanisms used bu those suffering from PTSD. While there is no right or wrong way to cope, this is one of the most common. People, places, and things are avoided if they have the potential to remind them of the traumatic event leading up to their PTSD. Perhaps they are not against having company at home for a nice, quiet evening; but that new movie that just came out with all those super cool effects may trigger reminders of the trauma. The most notable culprits for triggers are flashing lights and loud sounds (especially fireworks, cars backfiring, or gunshots). These occur more often than one might think. Triggers vary from person to person. A military veteran is likely going to have different triggers than a rape survivor.
Disinterest manifests in a few ways but is hit or miss when it comes to the subject of the survivor’s lack of interest. In other words, it will not encompass everything and it may drift from one day to the next day. The soccer game they were ecstatic about last week, may fade with the wind tomorrow. So how do you keep a survivor’s interest? Encourage them and find something they do enjoy or suggest something new. A fresh outlook could give someone a fresh start in working through the trauma.
Depression and detachment
Traumatic events can change a person and their way of how they view the world. Depression can onset in many different ways. Though the feeling of self-worthlessness is going to be the focus of this section. PTSD survivors may socially isolate themselves because they feel they are not worth spending time with others. You can still encourage and support them. Detachment goes hand in hand with depression in that the survivor will try to detach themselves emotionally from those around them. Sit down and talk with them if they feel up to it. Let them know that someone thinks they are awesome.
Exhaustion takes its toll on anyone. When in an exhausted state, who wants to go anywhere? Simply telling someone to sleep doesn’t always work. There are any number of reasons for insomnia (which include but are not limited to): flashbacks, nightmares, and being on guard for danger. Chances are an irritable, grumpy, and overwhelmed mood is not something they intend on sharing with whom they are close.
It’s a daily battle
Be patient, be supportive, and above all be kind. Reach out and don’t let your loved one feel alone.