Benefits of PTSD Support Groups for TBI Survivors

Posted on May 25, 2022

Very common after TBI, ABI, or Stroke is PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). An important part of PTSD recovery is support groups.

Peer support can provide a sense of safety, connection, and comfort. Learning about others living with PTSD can help ease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Joining a support group can help you realize that recovery is possible, listening to the experiences of those members who may be further along in their healing journey.

Support groups offer a safe space to share personal feelings of survivor guilt or shame. Other members can endorse these feelings while reminding you that what occurred wasn't your mistake.

You'll get other benefits with an online support group:

Secrecy: You don't have to use your real name or even email address, or if you prefer, you can even log in from a public computer.

Round-the-clock support: You can login to the message board or chat room wherever you are in the world.

Are support groups effective online? 

General evidence suggests peer support groups have a lot of benefits, such as:

  • provide hope and a sense of purpose
  • normalize PTSD symptoms
  • connect members with social support
  • improve day-to-day function
  • boost relationship skills and trust 

Older research also supports the benefits for veterans. In a study conducted on 128 male veterans living with PTSD, other veterans made up an important part of their social network. They found these relationships supportive, free of the strains they faced in their intimate relations.

According to a 2020 review, peer-led groups for brain injury survivors seemed to help improve participants' emotional and mental well-being. The review authors that while some survivors might find participation somewhat difficult, connecting with others to navigate distressing memories and painful emotions could help to heal.

Online groups make support even more accessible while adding a layer of anonymity.

Will a PTSD support group work for me? 

PTSD support groups are a safe place to find anonymous support for PTSD symptoms and guidance as you work toward healing. Recovering from PTSD symptoms without skilled treatment may prove difficult, and they don't replace therapy, though. 

Keep in mind that online groups may have limited abilities to moderate posts and chats. Many groups have administrators and moderators who try to ensure that participants communicate with respect and consideration. Still, there's always a chance people will decline to follow the rules and say hurtful things. You may even come across written details of traumatic events that could initiate added distress.

On the flip side, typing out distressing memories might feel easier than saying them aloud. No matter how supportive and understanding group members are in person, chat rooms and message boards can sometimes make it convenient to share painful experiences. 

Are online PTSD support groups cost-effective?

You have plenty of choices for free support, while some online support groups may cost money. 

Do mental health professionals assist our online support groups?

A therapist or mental health professional may lead some support groups. But usually, online support groups don't have any designated leaders or facilitators.

It's best not to seek medical advice or guidance from a support group; many groups even mention this in their rules. Someone might make a useful recommendation: "I found EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), but not all treatments work for everyone.

On the other hand, group therapy is a great alternative to therapist-led peer support. In this way, you'll attend sessions with other participants seeking help for similar symptoms.

How can I know if I must see a professional?

Support from professionals trained in mental health is recommended for PTSD.

A therapist who has in depth knowledge of your symptoms and situation can help discover methods to address negative thoughts and teach mindfulness approaches or grounding exercises to improve symptoms.

Therapists can suggest new treatment approaches and refer you to a psychiatrist if you'd like to try medication for severe symptoms.