7 Things You Should Never Say To Someone With PTSD

Don't say these phrases to people affected by trauma.

Woman in tears embracing friend Antoni Shkraba via Canva

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of those disorders that is awfully misunderstood, and often deceptively common. I mean, I know how common it can be. I have been diagnosed with PTSD/C-PTSD by several doctors.

Most people who know me know that I have it.

For the most part, people have become more aware of what it means. However, that doesn’t stop people from saying the wrong thing or even making things worse when it’s affecting me strongly.


Lately, I’ve been noticing that a lot of well-meaning people just don’t understand what they shouldn’t say.

These are the worst culprits, and why I’m begging you not to say them to people affected by trauma.

RELATED: 5 Rare Signs You're Suffering From PTSD


Here are 7 things you should never say to someone with PTSD:

1. "Can’t you just get over it? Jeez, it’s been years."


No, we can’t get over it.

That’s why it’s PTSD. That’s literally part of the PTSD diagnosis. The things that we lived through have been in the past but we’re still reacting to them as if it’s somehow just happened.

Saying this is ignorant and blames the victim for being traumatized. It’s also probably one of the most selfish things you can say. The best way to explain this is that it’s like telling someone whose grandma just died to "get over it."

Trauma can last for four weeks or 40 years. There is no timeline for how you process trauma. Saying that people need to get over it shows that you’re talking from a place of privilege.


2. "Well, I had something worse happen and you don’t see me complaining…"

First off, this is not the trauma Olympics. Okay? We’re not getting gold medals over who has the most trauma and we’re not getting into who has it worse.

Just because someone had it worse doesn’t make the other person’s trauma more or less valid. We can’t control what hurts us more and what doesn’t affect us. What is triggering for them may not have an effect on you, and that’s fine.

What’s not fine is making this about you. Like, really? You don’t have to be center stage and frankly, if my flashbacks are getting bad, I’m not going to care that you went through worse at that moment.

Seriously, don’t be the person who makes someone else’s trauma about them. This is the easiest way to burn a bridge with someone who has PTSD.


PRO TIP: If you have someone who did this to you, ghost them. Don’t even give them an explanation why, because they will typically turn it around on you. They are not good people to have around you and their selfishness will be a detriment to your mental health.

RELATED: Stop Dismissing My PTSD Just Because You Can't See It

3. "You need to talk about it. Talk to me. Why won’t you talk to me?!"

Uh, shut up. Please.

This is another way that people make someone’s PTSD about them. If a person suffering from it doesn’t want to talk, don’t hound them about it. This can actually trigger PTSD symptoms and make them worse.

A lot of people who do this mean well, but some actually do this because they have a need to "fix" people. Others do it simply because they like to step on boundaries like cockroaches in a warehouse.


Most well-meaning people stop, but some are just too tone-deaf to stop. Either way, this is another stupid way that people make other people’s PTSD about them. It’s become a dealbreaker for me as far as friends go.

This can get very ugly, very quickly. I had one person basically corner me in my own party doing this until I was crying and screaming. The party ended and he was booted from the apartment.

He wasn’t invited over again and frankly, our friendship died shortly after that. My husband was furious with him.

4. *Does the thing that you specifically told them triggers your PTSD*

If you warn someone not to do something because it triggers your PTSD and they still do it, it’s safe to say that they are trying to hurt you. I’ve learned that this is one of the few moments where you can attribute this to malice rather than stupidity.


I’ve learned to shun them and ghost them when it happens.

No, I don’t care what their excuse is.

No, I don’t want an apology.

No, I don’t want to talk to them.

No, this is not unreasonable. This is setting boundaries, and if the other person doesn’t want to treat me the way I want to be treated, they can kick rocks. Nothing good ever comes from keeping people around that actively hurt you.

5. "I don’t believe you were traumatized. You’re blowing it out of proportion."

Yes, the gaslighting is real. A person with PTSD shouldn’t have to prove or justify that they have trauma. This is one of those phrases that show that the person who says it is a bad person.


Seriously, hearing this is a good sign that you should probably stop talking to that person. No one has the right to tell you how you feel. It’s not up for debate.

RELATED: What It's Really Like To Live With Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

6. "Sounds like you’re weak."

Why is it that so many people assume that mental illness is a sign of weakness? It’s not. Moreover, why do people think it’s okay to insult people like that?

For real, my mom would have slapped me if she heard me say something like that. Where are these people’s parents and why aren’t they scolding their offspring for this kind of behavior?


I’d be embarrassed to be that abusive or to say that kind of crap to someone who’s struggling. If you really don’t believe them or feel like they’re being dramatic, just excuse yourself and stop talking to them.

Really, it’s not that hard to not be a rude person. I assure you, all you gotta do is just not be a judgemental prick. If you feel like giving them the side-eye, then you can just walk away.

7. "Have you considered therapy?"

I dunno. Is water wet? Is the sky blue? Does a bear go to the best gay clubs in the city and offer amazing fashion advice? Yes, most of us have considered it. 

Here’s the thing: many of us cannot afford therapy. America has a ridiculously bad mental health crisis. Moreover, some of us have horrible experiences with therapists, so we aren’t quite ready to try again.


Please stop telling us to get therapy. Those of us who do, are on it. Those of us who don’t have a reason why. This reeks of "Gee thanks, I’m cured" energy.

Every single person’s issues with PTSD are going to be different. Please respect that we’re all trying to process it in our own way.

RELATED: 5 Ways People With PTSD Love Differently In Relationships

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.