Watching These 10 Movies With PTSD Characters Will Inspire You to Seek Help

boyfriend, veteran, PTSD, politics, health, American sniper, bradley cooper
Village Roadshow Pictures

Can movies do the disorder justice?

10 Movie Characters With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD, also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious problem in the United States. And while anyone can develop it, those affected most are the men and women who have served in the military.

Movies can serve as a form of catharsis, realizing characters in mainstream films have similar views, aspirations, or ailments as the moviegoer. That's why these 10 movie characters with PTSD are so important. They promote, on a larger scale, what happens when trauma is not properly identified or fixed.

These movies might not eradicate PTSD but they can help viewers feel like they are less alone and that their personal problems are more common than they think.

1. Chris Lyle - American Sniper

Starring: Bradley Cooper and Siena Miller.

Based on the true story of American Sniper, Chris Lyle, who had 255 kills from his tours during the Iraq war. The story follows Lyle, and his wife, and the turmoil he experienced when he was back home in the United States. There is no happy ending in this story but the movie proves how important therapy and support is to our troops who come home after traumatizing events such as war.

2. Sam Cahill - Brothers

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tobey Maguire.

When Grace thinks her husband has died in war, she turns to his brother, Tommy for support. When their lives seem like they are on the right track, Sam returns. But the Marine is not as he seems, having been captured and tortured by enemy forces. Although the film received mixed reviews, it depicted the struggle family members go through when faced with PTSD.

3. Jacob Singer - Jacob's Ladder

Starring: Tim Robbins and Danny Aiello.

This psychological thriller was a hit in 1990, so much so they are remaking the film in 2019. Jacob has extreme PTSD from his time in Vietnam, made worse by the death of his son and subsequent divorce. The movie has all sorts of twists and turns that'll leave you on the edge of your seat. But for viewers who might see themselves in Jacob, it's an important reminder to seek help if you need it.

4. Luke Martin - Coming Home

Starring: Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.

When Sally's husband, Bob, is deployed to Vietnam, she falls in love with paraplegic veteran, Luke. It sounds like a soap opera but the Academy Award winning movie showcases different levels of PTSD and what war can really do to those who come home.

5. Charlie - Perks of Being a Wallflower

Starring: Logan Lerman, Paul Rudd, and Emma Watson.

PTSD isn't reserved for members of the military and Perks of Being a Wallflower is the proof. Reserved Charlie makes new friends in High School and finally comes out of his shell. But soon he is reminded of early childhood trauma through flashbacks and ends up in the hospital.

6. Conrad Jarrett - Ordinary People

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, and Timothy Hutton.

Ordinary People won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, and for good reason. The Jarrett family is put through the ringer with death, attempted suicide, and PTSD. The story shows how inner demons and issues affect the entire family, especially those without PTSD.

7. Grace Howard - Short Term 12

Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., and Rami Malek.

This movie is a must watch for many reasons but if you're grappling with PTSD from sexual abuse, it could be therapeutic for some viewers. Grace Howard helps run a house for troubled teenagers. But she has personal demons of her own, stemming from sexual abuse at the hands of her father. This movie is beautiful and should be added to your Netflix list, immediately.

8. Dave Boyle - Mystic River

Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon.

Another great movie that represents what PTSD at a young age can do to someone's life. This star-studded cast weaves various stories with pain and suffering through the lives of all characters. The opening scene is heartbreaking and will hopefully fire you up to support children affected by PTSD, amongst other things.

9. Lt. Dan Taylor - Forrest Gump

Starring: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Gary Siniese, and Robin Wright.

The relationship between Forrest Gump and Lt. Dan serves as a comedic aspect of the film but the PTSD that Gary Siniese's character endures is truly heartbreaking. And yet, Forrest Gump is another movie that depicts the horrifying aspects of war, and it's permanent effect on those who serve their country.

10. Tony Stark - Iron Man 3

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle.

Iron Man 3 might not be as serious as the previously listed movies but the same notion is upheld. After The Avengers, Tony Stark must deal with PTSD while fighting a new enemy. It's easy to be entertained by the Marvel movies but the added human element of stress, anxiety, and depression is a constant reminder that many people in the United States suffer from such mental illnesses.


If you or someone you know are suffering from PTSD contact The Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or visit a number of VA Medical Centers near your area.

Let's Keep the Conversation Going...

Did we miss a really powerful song? Do you agree or disagree with our options?

Tweet us @womendotcom or follow us on Facebook and Instagram!