Films about PTSD (17+)


Author bio

Page last updated: 18/11/2022

Films about PTSD

– A complete to understanding the PTSD through films

In this guide, we are going to discuss what Post-Traumatic Stress is and how the films represent the people who have to live with it.

Films about PTSD

The world of cinema has been responsible for bringing various types of films to the big and small screen.

Films about PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, among others. One of its purposes is to raise awareness and that people can understand how a person with a mental disorder lives.

Understanding mental disorders like any other physical illness a person may have are creating empathy and knowing that mental illnesses do not have a race, sex or socioeconomic status at the time a person suffers from it.

For the person suffering from a PTSD, its reality is hard.

The person lives in a situation of constant fear where and understands that any situation is threatening and threatens health.

Films about PTSD help the person to see beyond what books and articles detail about this disorder.

Looking on a screen and seeing the daily life of someone with PTSD means that the person can put itself in the place of another suffering from mental illness.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or also known as PTSD is a disorder that a person presents after having lived or witnessed a shocking, terrifying or dangerous event.

DSM 5 first classified PTSD as an Anxiety Disorder but was then reclassified in conjunction with Acute Stress Disorder to a new category called Trauma Related to Stress Factors.

It is natural for a person to feel fear after having lived or witnessed a traumatic situation or after it.

This fear causes many physical and psychological changes. The “fight or flight” response is a typical reaction that serves to protect the person from danger.

Almost always people will manifest various reactions after a traumatic experience but most recover naturally.

Others continue to have problems over time and are diagnosed with PTSD.

People with this disorder may feel stressed or scared, even when they are no longer in danger.

Any person can get PTSD regardless of age, although DSM 5 sets the criteria for such a disorder for older children, in children under 6 years of age it sets other criteria, but people who are war veterans, survivors of physical aggressions and sexual, traffic accidents, abuse, terrorist attacks or other serious events are those that have to develop PTSD.

Currently, specialists do not know what is the exact cause that a traumatic event can generate this syndrome in some people, but not in others.

According to studies, 7 or 8 out of 100 people will present this disorder at some time in their life, being women more likely to present it than men.

Films about PTSD (17+)

PTSD symptoms

The symptoms of PTSD can begin to manifest within a month after the traumatic event, but sometimes it can take years to manifest.

The symptoms cause considerable problems in the social, labour and relationships.

It can also interfere with a person’s ability to perform normal tasks every day.

In general, the symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into 4 types: intrusive, elusive memories, changes in thinking and moods, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Symptoms may vary over time or depend on the person.

Intrusive memories: Recurring, involuntary and distressing memories of the fact; relive the traumatic event as if it were happening again; disturbing dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event; severe emotional distress or physical reactions to things that remind you of the traumatic event.

Evasion: try to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, avoid places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

Negative changes in thinking and moods: Negative thoughts that the person has about himself, other people or the world in general; hopelessness about the future; difficulty in maintaining close relationships; lack of interest in activities that he liked before.

Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Always be alert to danger; difficult to focus; sleep disorders; overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame.

Treatment for PTSD

A person skilled in the area of ​​mental health and with knowledge about PTSD will be the most appropriate to help the person suffering from the disorder.

Among the main treatments are psychotherapy or medications, or a combination of both.

Each person is different and PTSD does not affect people in the same way, so a treatment according to the symptoms it presents is one of the most effective tools.

Identifying the symptoms helps the person to recognize if someone around them has PTSD and can guide them to seek the help they need.

The person with PTSD will need a lot of support from family and friends and they should be understanding and understand that the person who has PTSD is going through a difficult situation.

Films about PTSD

The world of cinema has been responsible for capturing a large number of diseases, both physical and mental, which can be recognized as a form of entertainment and at the same time raising awareness about the disease.

The world of cinema and television offers the opportunity for people who do not belong to the health field to have an idea about how a person with PTSD lives and how to show support.

This form also helps people to identify PTSD symptoms from someone around them.

There have been several films about PTSD that have been made in recent years.

The recognition that the importance of mental health has led to various film directors having reflected the disorder on the screen.

Several websites have created lists about the best films about PTSD. 

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

This was the first film about PTSD. This film won seven Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Film.

The film is centred on a sailor, a soldier and a marine who returned home from the war, each with a different problem.

The protagonists struggled to find employment again, deal with the wounds of war and manage relationships, all at once while dealing with the emotional scars of war.

The film became a critical and commercial success.

This film about PTSD remains the sixth busiest film of all time in the United Kingdom, with more than 20 million tickets sold.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

Captured as prisoners of war in Vietnam, Christopher Walken is so disturbed by his experiences of war that when it ends, instead of returning to Pennsylvania to melt steel, he ends up drunk in Southeast Asia, playing Russian roulette for money.

This other film about PTSD was successful at the box office and received 9 Academy Award nominations, winning 5 of these including Best Film and Best Movie Editing.

This film about PTSD was considered one of the best films ever made, it was selected for conservation in the National Film Registry of the United States by the Library of Congress in 1966 as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

The film is about Kovic’s life during a 20-year period where he details his childhood, his military service and paralysis during the Vietnam War, and his transition to anti-war activism.

The film has strong scenes, one of them is when Kovic arrives drunk at his home and starts shouting saying that he and his companions killed women and children while they were in Vietnam, while his mother covers her ears with her hands, shouting at him to him and calling a liar.

This film shows PTSD in a very strong way.

This film about PTSD in the life of this soldier received good reviews and great reception in movie theatres, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of 1989.

Hurt Locker (2008)

In this film, the protagonist is an expert in explosive ordinances and elimination (EOD) that is addicted to combat fever.

But when he returns home to the United States, he does not feel he fits and fights in his relationship with his wife and son and is paralyzed by simple decisions such as choosing what type of cereal to buy at the fuel store.

The film shows how he has become an almost inefficient human being because he has desires for combat.

This film about PTSD shows the battles of the soldier with PTSD and how drastic its effects are.

This film received good reviews and several Oscar nominations, winning some of these.

FAQs about Films about PTSD

Can a person develop a PTSD after watching a film related to the disorder?

No, a person does not develop a PTSD after watching a film, but in many cases, they may feel identified with the occasional symptom.

If the person feels related to the point of believing that they have a PTSD, the best thing to do is go to seek professional help to help them rule out the disorder if it is not.

Are there celebrities with PTSD?

Celebrities like Prince Harry, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato and Dwayne Johnson have expressed about various mental disorders they have suffered.

Lady Gaga revealed that she was abused at age 19 and expressed her PTSD.

The artist also said that the kindness shown by her friends, family and doctors was what saved her life.

Can a person develop a PTSD after they have filmed a film about PTSD?

Actors and actresses who have brought to the screen papers with people who have mental illnesses have not manifested symptoms, others have.

In the case that a person when performing a performance of someone who has PTSD and then takes it to real-life can be a symptom that he was suffering from the disease.

Why are films about PTSD becoming more frequent?

Raising awareness about the importance of mental illness has led film and television directors to bring stories about this type of disorder to the screens.

The news about the deaths of celebrities and public figures have helped people to come to understand that mental illnesses have no criteria when someone can suffer from it.

All people are exposed to suffering from mental illness, so it is important to emphasize what they consist of.

Can watching a film about PTSD help a person to heal from the disorder?

A film can exert a positive and negative influence, it all depends on its interpretation.

But in cases where a person has a PTSD, the best thing to do is seek professional help.

An area professional is someone who can provide you with the best techniques for your recovery.


Films about PTSD are a clear and precise way to raise public awareness about this disorder and its severity. Through acting representations, the person can feel identified or identify someone around them who may suffer from the disease. Mental illnesses are as important as physical illnesses and deserve their due attention. Knowing them helps to make a better diagnosis and show empathy for people who have PTSD or other mental disorder.

  1. Clint Eastwood’s Cinema of Trauma: Essays on PTSD in the Directors Films
  2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Invisible Injury 

  1. What It Feels Like To Have PTSD 
  2. What Is PTSD, Exactly?