What is it like to live with PTSD?

According to Welby O’Brien, author, speaker, and advocate, post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest in anxiety, avoidance, depression, anger, skittishness, flashbacks, hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, irritability, nightmares, sleep disturbances, emotional withdrawal, and more. Those who are suffering can turn to harmful substances, or enter into other negative patterns in order to cope, she says.

“We want people to know that they’re reacting normally to abnormal experiences and they can learn to thrive again.”

Although PTSD can affect anyone who has been through a life-altering experience, military veterans are particularly vulnerable to this condition.

For those who are experiencing PTSD, asking for help should be a priority. Connecting with others, researching treatment options, and remembering they are not alone are all important steps toward healing.

Churches and church leaders can help sufferers by being informed about the condition and being willing to offer support to congregants who deal with this issue. Treating PTSD survivors with regard, listening, offering to help, providing resources, and praying are all helpful, Welby says.

As the wife of a Vietnam War veteran, Welby says her relationship has been fulfilling in the midst of her husband’s PTSD symptoms. She encourages others who are loved ones of PTSD sufferers.

“It’s important to realize everybody close to the PTSD survivor is affected. The most important thing we can do is let them know we’re there for them. I would love to see every church body so filled with the love and grace of Jesus that people are drawn.”

While giving is important, Welby emphasizes the importance of caregiver rest.

“Especially as Christians, sometimes we impose false guilt on ourselves if we aren’t always giving out. Be there to support, and yet have a healthy balance.”

On Veterans Day, Jeremiah thanks veterans for their service, and advises Christians to be sensitive to the needs of those who have experienced or been affected by PTSD.

Welby O’Brien is the author of “Love Our Vets: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD.” Her website, LoveOurVets.org, speaks to the specific needs of PTSD survivors and their loved ones.

PTSD, Veterans, and the Church