Getting Treatment for PTSD
The decision to get care for PTSD symptoms can be difficult. You are not alone if you feel nervous. It is not uncommon for people with mental health problems like PTSD to want to avoid talking about it. But getting help for your symptoms is the best thing you can do. PTSD treatments can work.
Deciding to get treatment
There is no need to suffer with PTSD. There are good treatments that can help. You don’t need to let PTSD get in the way of your enjoyment of life, hurt your relationships, or cause problems at work or school. Learn from Veterans who talk about living with PTSD and how treatment turned their lives around. Take a look at the AboutFace website listed below.
Getting better means different things for different people, but people who get treatment improve their quality of life. In many cases, PTSD treatment can get rid of your symptoms. For some, symptoms may continue after treatment, but you will have learned skills to cope with them better.
Treatment can also help you:
Make sense of the trauma
Learn skills to better handle negative thoughts and feelings
Reconnect with people you care about
Set goals for activities, like work or school, that you can handle
Barriers to care
There are many different things that might stop you from getting help for PTSD. These are called barriers. Part of PTSD is avoiding thinking about the trauma. So, it makes sense that people with PTSD may want to avoid getting treatment. But there are other reasons people might not seek care right away. Here are some examples:
Believing you will get better on your own
Problems getting care, like finding a therapist, transportation, or cost
Not knowing that PTSD treatments work
Thinking that services are for other people, not you
Stigma about getting mental healthcare
What is stigma?
Stigma is when you feel judged by other people because of some personal quality or trait. You may feel stigma because of negative things people say about you, or because they treat you differently. An example of stigma related to PTSD is a belief that people with PTSD are dangerous or unstable, which is not true.
Some examples of stigma include:
Negative labels or stereotypes that assume all people with PTSD are the same
Discrimination at work or school, or finding housing because of your symptoms
Being denied chances to succeed because of a PTSD diagnosis
Because of concerns about stigma, you may try to hide the problem or not admit you need care. You may start to feel you deserve to be treated badly because of your symptoms. But PTSD is not something to be ashamed of. The best thing you can do for yourself is to take control and get help.
Military barriers to care
When you are in the military, there are other things that may get in the way of seeking help. Military members may worry that talking about PTSD with healthcare providers, other soldiers, or commanding officers will hurt their career. You may think if people in your unit learn you have PTSD they will see you as weak, or not trust that you will be able to protect them. Or you may feel that your medical records will be opened for other people to see.
Being afraid that getting treatment will hurt your career, may lead you to not get the help you need – when you need it most. Many don’t get help until their return from deployment, or when their family tells them there is a problem. But you don’t have to wait.
You may think that ignoring your PTSD is critical to keep your job. But if your PTSD symptoms are getting in the way of doing your duties, it is better to deal with them before they hurt your military career. Getting help for PTSD is a better way to begin to solve problems.
Rising above barriers to care
There are always reasons to put off seeking help, especially with PTSD. It may be hard to find a therapist, get time off from work, and find the money to pay for treatment. Facing your problems can be scary. It is even harder if you don't know what to expect.
But if you learn about PTSD treatments, find social support, and get started in treatment, you can feel more in control. You can’t change what others think about PTSD, but you can stop it from getting in your way.
Getting support is key to getting better. Here are some steps you can take to get help for PTSD:
Learn about PTSD and treatments. Knowing your options and that treatment helps is important.
Take the first step and find out where to get help. See our Where to Get Help for PTSD page.
Talk to someone you trust. This can be a family member, healthcare provider, clergy member, or another Service member or Veteran.
For more information
PTSD Program Locator
AboutFace Veteran PTSD website
Treatment for PTSD health sheet