PTSD Diagnosis Disclosing Your PTSD Diagnosis By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD Twitter Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn about our editorial process Updated on March 18, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Tetra Images / Creative RF / Getty Images Have you recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and are you thinking of disclosing your PTSD diagnosis to someone? This can be a stressful experience, as well as a positive one. When someone learns that they have PTSD, they may not be that surprised. Receiving a diagnosis can actually be a positive experience. People may be comforted by the fact that there is a name for the number of symptoms that they are experiencing. Being diagnosed with PTSD may also bring about a sense of hope. Even though recovery from PTSD can be a long and difficult road, there are a number of effective treatments for PTSD. However, PTSD may also be associated with some stigma. That is, some people may view PTSD as a sign that they are weak or damaged in some way. They may be ashamed of having the diagnosis or view it as their fault, as though they did something to cause it. Outsiders may think this of those diagnosed as well. As a result, people may avoid disclosing their diagnosis to people they are close to, such as family and friends. Should I Tell My Partner What Happens in Therapy? The Importance of Telling Others Disclosing that you have PTSD to people in your life (especially loved ones) is important. 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. Yet, telling others about your PTSD diagnosis can be a very difficult and stressful thing to do. Here are some tips that may make the process of disclosing your PTSD to loved ones a bit easier. How to Help a Loved One With PTSD Learn About the Diagnosis 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. PTSD is often misunderstood, and it is very possible that your loved ones will have many questions about PTSD. Make sure that you can address those questions or, at the very least, direct them to resources to get their questions answered. The National Center for PTSD from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a good place to find more information and resources, including ways to get help and advice for friends and family. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also offers a number of PTSD resources including education programs such as NAMI Homefront, which is designed for family members of veterans who have experienced military-related trauma. Identify People That You Trust and Who Can Provide Support You do not need to tell everyone about your PTSD. Who should you tell? There are a number of characteristics that you should look for in establishing a source of social support. Share the information with those people who are going to be understanding, trustworthy, and supportive. In deciding who to tell about your PTSD diagnosis, try to see who in your life has a number of these characteristics. Coping With PTSD Set Aside a Time to Tell Others After you identify who you are going to tell about your PTSD diagnosis, make sure you set aside a good time to do so. Telling someone about your PTSD diagnosis can be a stressful thing to do. It may be uncomfortable and/or anxiety-provoking for you. It can be an emotional experience for both people involved, so make sure that you do it 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. You Choose What to Disclose What to disclose is completely up to you. Give the person enough information to understand the diagnosis and make sure to let them know how they can help. You do not need to tell your loved ones everything. For example, you do not need to disclose specific information about your traumatic event. If someone asks you an uncomfortable question that you do not want to answer, it is perfectly OK 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 to 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. Remind yourself that that is about them, not you. 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 difficult diagnosis to cope with. However, recovery is definitely possible. Treatments for PTSD 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Mittal D, Drummond KL, Blevins D, Curran G, Corrigan P, Sullivan G. Stigma associated with PTSD: perceptions of treatment seeking combat veterans. Psychiatr Rehabil J. 2013;36(2):86-92. doi:10.1037/h0094976 Gros DF, Flanagan JC, Korte KJ, Mills AC, Brady KT, Back SE. Relations among social support, PTSD symptoms, and substance use in veterans. Psychol Addict Behav. 2016;30(7):764–770. doi:10.1037/adb0000205 By Matthew Tull, PhD Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for PTSD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.