8 Ways for People With PTSD to Share Their Diagnosis With Others

Use these tips to make the disclosure less anxiety-inducing

Group counseling
Martin Barraud/Caiaimage/Getty Images

It can be difficult for people with PTSD to share the news of their diagnosis with others, but it doesn't have to be. While individuals with PTSD don't need to disclose their diagnosis to any and everyone, it's important not to keep the condition from loved ones. After all, they're likely to see the symptoms of the disorder and how they affect you.

Moreover, loved ones can be an excellent source of social support, which has been found to be incredibly beneficial for people with PTSD.

Social support may speed up recovery from PTSD and help someone overcome the effects of a traumatic event.

Still, telling others about a PTSD diagnosis can be stressful thing. Learn the best way to break the news with the tips that follow. 

Learn About the Diagnosis of PTSD

Before you tell anyone about your PTSD diagnosis, it is important that you understand the diagnosis yourself. Learn as much as you can about PTSD, which is often misunderstood. It is very possible that your loved ones will have many questions for you about PTSD. Make sure that you can address those questions or, at the very least, direct them to resources to get their questions answered.

Identify People That You Trust and Who Can Provide Support

You do not need to tell everyone about your PTSD. Share the information with those people who are going to be understanding, trustworthy and supportive. In other words, don't share the news with the family gossip or the loved one likely to criticize you about the disorder.

Anyone who has a history of such toxic behaviors should be eliminated from your list of confidants. 

Set Aside a Time to Tell Others

After you identify the individuals you are going to tell about your PTSD diagnosis, make sure you set aside a good time to do so. Allow yourself the time needed to share the diagnosis, nerves and all.

Consider that the person you tell may react emotionally to the news, so make sure that you make the disclosure in a place and at a time that is not stressful for you.

Invite a friend over for tea. Take a family member out to lunch. You want to set up a situation where you have the person's undivided attention.

Choose What to Disclose

You do not need to tell your loved ones everything. For example, you do not need to disclose specific information about your traumatic event. You are in control: what to disclose is completely up to you. Give them enough information to understand the diagnosis and what they can do to help.

If someone asks you an uncomfortable question that you do not want to answer, it is perfectly okay to simply say, "I'm sorry, but I am not ready to talk about that yet." Prepare beforehand by coming up with some things you can say if someone asks you a question you do not want to answer.

Eliminate Confusion About PTSD

Be prepared to give them the basics on PTSD. Tell them what symptoms commonly occur in PTSD and why.

If you are telling someone who is going to be providing you with social support, it is important that they have a good foundation of knowledge on PTSD. They need to understand why certain symptoms and behaviors occur, what they look like and how they can be addressed.

Talk to Others with PTSD

If you know other people with PTSD, talk with them to see how they disclosed their diagnosis to loved ones. What worked well for them? What would they do differently if they had to do it again? You can gain some valuable information from the experiences of others with PTSD or who are recovering from PTSD.

Prepare Yourself In Case They Don't Understand

Finally, prepare yourself for the possibility that someone may not be supportive or understanding of what you are going through. Sometimes people may not be ready to hear what you have to tell them. This can be a very difficult experience to encounter, and it has the potential to make you feel ashamed or embarrassed.

It may also prevent you from seeking out support from others. Before you tell anyone about your PTSD, make sure you have some coping skills ready to deal with the possibility that someone may not give you the response you want.

Remember, You Are in Control

In the end, it is important for you to know that you do not have to disclose your PTSD to anyone before you are ready. You are in control. You decide who to disclose your diagnosis to and when.

PTSD is never a sign of weakness, and it is never the fault of the person with the diagnosis. Surrounding yourself with people who understand, care for and support you can greatly reduce the stigma around a PTSD diagnosis and aid in recovery. PTSD can be a very difficult diagnosis to cope with; however, recovery is definitely possible.

Continue Reading