Covers some reasons people don't seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Looks at common objections to seeking treatment, such as the cost and the fear of what others think. Includes what you can do about overcoming objections.
You may worry about money. Even if you have
insurance, it doesn't always cover mental health care.
feel that asking for treatment is a sign of weakness.
You may think
you will get better if enough time passes.
You may worry that if
people find out it could hurt your career.
But you need to get treatment. Treatment can work, and
early treatment may help reduce long-term symptoms.1
Here are some reasons people don't seek treatment and what you
can do about them.
"It's hard to schedule and find time for an appointment." "I can't get there."
Look at your schedule and find when it would
be easiest for you to see a doctor. Request this time when you call. You may
have to wait a few days, but if that's the only time you can do it, it's worth
When you call for an appointment, explain your situation.
Most doctors will try to find a time that works for both of you.
Ask a friend to help you get there, or check local bus
If you are a veteran, VA clinics and hospitals may offer
after-hours or weekend hours.
"See a shrink? I'm not crazy." "People will think I'm weak." "What will my family and friends think?"
You are looking for help so you will feel better. It takes
strength and courage to seek help from others.
problems are real and can affect your physical health. They are often caused by
chemicals in the brain or by heredity—they are not character flaws.
You can get better with the right kind of treatment. Treatment
includes medicine, counseling, self-care, or a combination of these. The kind
of treatment you have will depend on how severe your symptoms are.
"Someone might get into my medical records and see this."
Doctors, counselors, hospitals, and clinics
take privacy seriously. They won't share your records with anyone not involved
in your treatment. If you have questions about your privacy, ask the doctor
about it when calling for an appointment.
If you are in the
"I'm afraid of someone seeing that I'm not in control of myself."
Strong emotion is common, even years after
the event that causes PTSD. You still may get angry easily or feel like crying.
It's not your fault that you feel the way you do. Strong emotions are a symptom
of PTSD. Treatment can help you cope.
"I've tried to talk to people. They just don't get it and don't care."
It may be hard for some people to understand
or relate to your experiences. But other people who have experienced the same
type of events can understand. Consider finding a group of people who have
experiences similar to yours.
"It happened a long time ago. How can anything help me?"
You can't change the past, but you can learn
to see your past in a different way. This can help with symptoms.
"I can't afford it."
Many towns and cities have resources that may
be able to help you. Call your local social services department or welfare
office to find out.
If you have insurance, check your policy.
Mental health benefits often are covered through a separate
Check to see if your state has a mental health parity law.
Your employer may be required to provide mental health insurance.
Look into the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You may be able
to use it to take time off for doctor visits.
Ask your doctor for
help. He or she may be able to find free or low-cost medicine or counseling.
Check Medicaid if you have a low income, or Medicare if you are 65
or older. These programs may be able to help you.
If you are a veteran, Vet Centers throughout the country offer
treatment for combat trauma and PTSD.
"It might hurt my career."
You may think that it will hurt your career
if people at your workplace know you have PTSD. But PTSD may make it hard for
you to perform your job well. Treatment can help you perform better.
"Mental health care doesn't work." "I've had counseling before and don't like it."
Learn about treatment for PTSD and find a
counselor that has experience with trauma and PTSD. You'll find that counselors
with experience will understand the bad experiences you may have had.
Mental health care, including treatment for PTSD, does
"I went to Iraq, but never saw combat. How could I have PTSD?"
Even if you didn't see combat, you may have
seen a traumatic event. For example, going through a mortar attack, seeing an
improvised explosive device (IED) go off in a crowded street, seeing badly
injured people in a hospital, or just being scared because you were in Iraq all
could result in PTSD.
"It's normal to think about my combat experience until I get used to life in the U.S. again."
It is normal to think about your experience
for a while after the event. But if you're still thinking about it several
months after the event, or if it's disturbing your life, you may want to seek
Bisson J (2010). Post-traumatic stress disorder, search date March 2009. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.