PTSD: How Much to Share with Friends and Family

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious, sometimes debilitating, illness that affects many people from all walks of life. If you have PTSD, then you may already know that PTSD is sometimes a tough battle because it cannot readily be seen. Many people find it hard to seek support and accommodations because it doesn’t look like something is “wrong” with them. If PTSD is affecting your life, you may have some questions about who should and shouldn’t share your diagnosis with. 

When it comes to friends and family, you may be more inclined to share details about your illness with those closest to you. There are still some considerations you should make when deciding who to tell and who not to tell. The general consensus is to err on the side of caution because you can never un-tell someone and the reaction you receive from those you know best shock you. Reactions can range from wanting to know more about your illness so they can be as supportive as possible to dismissive and complete rejection of your illness. 

When considering family and friends and who to tell, you should think about the ways it may impact your relationship with that person. If you tell a close friend, and they tell your whole group of friends, is it something you could live with? If you tell a family member and they tell everyone down to your great aunt Sue, will you be able to live with it? You should also consider that each person you tell may want to know what caused your PTSD, will you be comfortable sharing the story with each person you tell? Will telling the story or talking about the events trigger a bad reaction every time you tell it? 

When you are deciding who to tell, make the decision on a person-to-person basis. Think about the range of outcomes that could happen when telling any given person, if you’re comfortable with what could happen, then tell them. If you have inhibitions about any one person, trust your instinct and wait until you feel comfortable telling them later on or not at all. 

PTSD is your illness and yours alone, so you don’t owe anyone an explanation that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with. But support and encouragement from a loved one can make a world of difference when managing your symptoms, so do tell those you know, love, and trust. 


N.D. “Do’s and Don’ts of Disclosure”. Brainline. (Website). 2015

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