How To Talk To Your Doctor About PTSD

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U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jason Uhlig

Asking for help is never easy and sometimes the hardest part is admitting you need it. When it comes to mental health, it can be especially difficult to talk to a doctor, for fear that he or she isn’t going to understand or just put you on medication and wave you away. If you don’t have a relationship with your doctor, it’s even harder to talk about deeply personal issues with a complete stranger, but that’s not a good reason to avoid seeking help.


If you do need to speak with a doctor about post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to do it as soon as possible.

According to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, symptoms are indicated by an answer of “Yes” to any three of the following:

  • Have you ever had any experience so upsetting that it gave you nightmares or flashbacks?
  • Do you ever go out of your way to avoid situations that remind you of it?
  • Are you constantly on edge and do you feel overly watchful or easily startled, even when you know you’re safe?
  • Do you feel detached from others or numb to activities and your surroundings?

A more in-depth checklist is provided on the VA website. For those exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Before any doctor’s appointment, make a list of questions about treatment recommendations, for example:

  • How do I manage the symptoms?
  • How does it impact my daily life and what are some common problems facing those with PTSD?
  • What will treatment look like?

Related: 8 Common Myths About PTSD Debunked »

Next, consider bringing a close friend or family member along, as it can be difficult to remember all the information provided. They may be able to offer insight into behavior at home that could be helpful to the care provider.

Finally, it’s important to remember that treatment plans may differ from person to person. Treatment may include therapy, medication, or both, and evidence-based therapy can last between three and four months.

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