PTSD Fact Sheet: Frequently Asked Questions

National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
PTSD Fact Sheet: Frequently Asked Questions

What is PTSD?

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it's been longer than a few months and you're still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

Who develops PTSD?

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person's control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

How common is PTSD?

Here are some facts (based on the U.S. population):

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%). Learn more about women, trauma and PTSD.

Personal factors, like previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender, can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.

Learn more: How Common is PTSD?

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

There are four type of PTSD symptoms: reliving the event (nightmares, flashbacks, or triggers), avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings, and feeling keyed up (hyperarousal). Symptoms may not be exactly the same for everyone. PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

Learn more: Symptoms of PTSD

What can I do if I think I have PTSD?

The only way to know for sure if you have PTSD is to talk to a mental health care provider. Take the Self-Screen for PTSD (PC-PTSD-5), to learn if your symptoms suggest you should talk to a provider.

Read What Can I Do If I Think I Have PTSD? for more information on how to seek help and why it matters.

Will people with PTSD get better?

"Getting better" means different things for different people. There are many different treatment options for PTSD. For many people, these treatments can get rid of symptoms altogether. Others find they have fewer symptoms or feel that their symptoms are less intense. Your symptoms don't have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.

What treatments are available for PTSD?

There are two main types of treatment, psychotherapy (sometimes called counseling or talk therapy) and medication. Sometimes people combine psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy for PTSD

Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist.

  • Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning, is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as:
    • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. Changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.
    • Prolonged Exposure (PE) where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. This will help you get more control over your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. You also go to places or do things that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they remind you of the trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma. This helps your brain work through the traumatic memories.

Medications for PTSD

Medications can be effective too. Some specific SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), which are used for depression, also work for PTSD. These include sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine.

IMPORTANT: Benzodiazepines and atypical antipsychotics should generally be avoided for PTSD treatment because they do not treat the core PTSD symptoms and can be addictive.

Who do I contact for help with PTSD? How do I locate specialists or support groups for PTSD?

How can I help a family member who has PTSD?

It is important to learn about PTSD so you can understand why it happened, how it is treated, and what you can do to help. But you also need to take care of yourself. Changes in family life are stressful, and taking care of yourself will make it easier to cope. Learn more: Helping a Family Member Who Has PTSD

As a professional, I need to locate a specific assessment instrument for PTSD. How do I do that?

Proper assessment of trauma exposure and PTSD is best accomplished with validated measures. You will find information and online courses about assessment tools and best practices on the National Center for PTSD website, here: PTSD Information for Professionals: Assessment Overview. There you will find information on a variety of measures assessing trauma and PTSD. These measures are intended for use by qualified mental health professionals and researchers. Measures authored by the National Center for PTSD staff are available as direct downloads or by request. Measures developed outside of the National Center can be requested via contact information available on the information page for the specific measure. See a list of all measures or see Using PILOTS for Assessment Information.

Posted on BrainLine November 28, 2017. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

From the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comments (170)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

While PTSD is caused by life threatening situations, it is possible to get it without being in one yourself. Some people can be traumatized from simply hearing about what someone with PTSD went through, especially if you're close to them. I think you would know, however, if that was the case. If you're asking if PTSD can be passsd down genetically like anxiety or depression, then the answer is a resounding no.

No. PTSD is a reaction to extreme stress, that causes the victim to be in “fight or flight” mode all the time, after experiencing a high stress incident. It cannot be acquired by simply living with someone with PTSD.

The best thing to do in your situation would be to realize that your mom can and will get better with the right treatment overtime. Love and acceptance are important and can help you all get through this together as a family. Possibly you can do your research and find a better treatment for your mom if she’s not getting better.

Josie, unless you have had a serious traumatic event you will not get PTSD. You can help her by reading about PTSD and it's symptoms. Once you understand what contributed to her PTSD you'll know how to provide care that will help her. Best to you.

Someone very close to me has severe PTSD, and he's constantly taking his guilt out on me, not in a violent manner but treats me like he hates me and gives me the silent treatment constantly.

I know it's not him, it's his disorder compelling him to say such things. What I'd like to know is when he acts like he's mad at me, he's truly mad at himself right?

I apologize in advance, but I have Chronic PTSD and the only reason I react is if there is a threat or the high possibility of a threat. Triggering PTSD is one thing. There are many ways that can happen depending on how one developed PTSD.

Treating you like he hates you, and silent treatment indicates to me a comorbid issue. That's a separate toxic thinking pattern altogether. Has he been drinking or using any mind-altering substances is a question that tugs on my lips with that. Unless you are triggering him.

All in all it is his responsibility to learn his triggers and effectively communicate them with you. PTSD is not an excuse to treat others with disdain. Simply fight or flight. Threat or not. Yes you get irritable, but I believe it would benefit both of you to seek out different treatment options.

One that has helped me is mindfulness it has really developed a much calmer, patient, and understanding of myself (which is where it all starts) and others.

Talk therapy never did anything for me. It took them years to realize I had more going on then just major depression over my past 3 major suicide attempts, because of flashback triggers, and emotional burden that made it very challenging to function. I worked but didn't develop more than professional relationships. I was incapable.

I have isolation periods (which I'm in right now), but that doesn't give me a reason to behave unkindly without a reason, other than I've endured extreme trauma the larger portion of my life.

I'm not sure what your religious stances are but there is a scripture in the New Testament that helps me in those times when I feel irritated and someone is dancing on the trigger line. "Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do." I pray that some of this helps.

To answer your question fully: No he isn't mad at you, he may not even be mad at himself. Depending on what caused his PTSD it may bring up his anger for what someone else has done to him. The guilt and shame is a real deal and I really really hope he learns to love himself better. EMDR has helped me a bit with that. "I love myself, even though I don't do my EMDR, as much as I feel I should."

It takes some time but if he isn't treating you well it's best for him to be encouraged to get help, and if he refuses, maybe it's time to think about separating. Too often people dump their toxic baggage on another, just make sure you heal. No one deserves to walk around on eggshells, and be treated dismissively in a relationship. My heart goes out to you!

I say "forgive themselves, father, for they know not what they
do" all the time, every day

That’s what I what I want to know
Been married 20 years considering divorce. I can’t anymote

There's many reasons for the reaction to come out at you. The biggest thing you need to remember is it's not likely your fault. People tend to hurt the ones they care most about because they know they will still be there for them. Think about it like this a child gets told no and is upset he doesn't say i hate my bike he says i hate you mom or dad. because he reaction even though he knows may hurt your feelings you will still be there for them. it's like that on a bigger scale. Your husband may be suffering with guilt add in the fact that he's up set because he know his actions hurt you so then he gets more angry at himself and acts worse or says worse things. This is a endless cycle with out help. This i know from personal experience i use to deflect my feelings on others then be upset with myself and talk worse to them because i was angry with myself. Try to explain to him it's taking a toll and you would like him to go to counseling. But dont make him feel like he's the issue. say something like babe. i was thinking maybe we could go to counseling together or see separate therapist.. If he wont you still can which will help you with your feelings

Seeking treatment, and being understood, doesn't always happen. I can't explain myself to someone, even a professional, because PTSD makes me easily trigged - 0 to 100 faster than I can blink, and the creature who I become to survive when I'm pushed into that mindset obviously doesn't like me, either, as self-aware I'm "doing it again" and cognitive therapy has taught me about the inner critic is a learned behavior. So it's a struggle.

And so I have questions, having been told by 3 (two were poorly trained..not sure about the last...but she's handling my meds right now) professionals when I have a PTSD moment and break down and cry that "There's no need for crying. Your PTSD isn't as bad as others."

I am very high functioning. Until I am not.
And the last time I was hospitalized, it's because i went into a counselor already triggered, and she said the same thing after only knowing me for 15 minutes. "Your PTSD isnt as bad as others."

...It makes me feel like they're patronizing me. It makes me feel like they think i'm lying about my depression. Until I'm ready to kill myself, no one takes me seriously, and i'm trying to fight this thing!!!

Has anyone else been in this situation? It's not helpful, but the second I feel like I'd say something, they're gonna say it's me, and i'll be back in the same damn position. How do you cope? What would you do?

We all struggle. I'm in tears beause I wouldn't want ANYONE to feel this way. I know the hurt so well, I don't see why, why why "your ptsd isn't as bad as others" has room in a behavioral health situation. Because everyone hurts different, and we can't see how deep it is. Even Autistic Spectrum folks have handicaps, but amazing abilities. Just because you have a pretty face, a strong jaw, a badge, metal of honor, money, people around you doesn't mean you're not struggling to live with Pavalovian Human Condition. Trying to define yourself and bring purpose to your own life isn't easy, even if you are polite and kind to others. I personally can't bring myself to be nasty to someone! I know the other end too well, and I'm trying to forget it!

How do you handle when the professionals try to fit you in a time slot, a diagnosis, or whatever they assume when they look at you? How do you do it?

I keep on top of things like bookkeeping and taken care of where things are at when I need them. I am not a perfectionist, like people I know. I am human and live life in a way that keeps me thinking good and clear about where things are and how they - need to be taken care of. I talk the true way I feel, so I will debate anyone on what they say about family or friends. If I am wrong about something I will own up & say sorry (Randy)

Hi, (I have ptsd & I think I am in a different country to you) my experience is that you have to 'shop' around, I was encouraged to do this, & I finally found the right fit with a counsellor, (It took a long time) I hope this is an option for you & that you can find the right supportive person.

You do deserve to be supported, I understand what it is like to be highly functioning & doing everything I can to get on top of it.

No one needs extra pressure when they are putting enough on themselves.
Possibly you need to find a counsellor or psychologist that has been through what you have - a good one with a heart that cares for others - that has learned to be present or has the ability to be present for you so you can go to weekly support. I hope this helps. Hang in there, don't give up. Call crisis lines in between bad time slots. Maybe start a support group of other people that are in the same position as you of the same sex. Hugs.

Not all therapists are like that at all. I also made it clear to them that the life choices and decisions I have made due to PTSD just exacerbates the trauma, where I develop expectations of people in s flutter and then get angry at disappointments.

I never had a therapist undermine me to a point where we have a rapport to deep and I bite back and foam at the mouth. I bitch out and stick it right back to him. I explain that I feel threatened and acting defensively. I do it to him to so he gets the point wtf I go through when my PTSD stress has me making awful decisions over forgivable things or risky events I am complicit in.

like, a therapist needs to be reminded how the mental illness and you need to bug out on them the way you do on others or on your own. they get paid for it and you really need to find a way to get that help.

if a therapist can't handle PTSD from outside of my box, his box, and our treatment box, then I have to find one who can. JUST NO THREATS. it's not cool but you need to express what makes you feel threatened. if the mood swing is fierce, train yourself to not make big decisions (moving, spending, drinking, etc), again, therapy. one who can handle trauma.

I know some friends growing up who are now practicing attorneys. They told me that the part about being a lawyer that most don't understand is the screaming cursing, yelling, and total drama-grief that go on behind closed doors with clients, is a shitshow and they need the ability to connect with their target practice/clients. Well, some therapists need to be geared and well versed with PTSD. sharing printings can be topics to address.

I truly believe that if there were some sort of an apocalypse, PTSD patients would struggle the least to survive.

I am so sorry for you.I have been struggling eleven years now.the mental health system is a nightmare within itself.A social worker or msw councelor is not trained to treat us,because they don't know us.They don't live with us,so they don't see our behavior.A psychiatrist is the only one,but a lot of them don't take our insurance,they can give meds,and treatment,but avoidance of triggers with no excuses is all we can do.I try to go to the same places.The medication makes me forgetful,forgiveness does not work,talking about it does not work,selfcaare and firm boundaries work.A church that is quiet works,but I go late and leave early.The constant negative thinking drives me mad.Once the brain is damaged it is damaged.It doesn't matter if yours is worse than others or not,you are an individual.If I hear screaming,yelling,certain words,smells,I react badly.I do not do drugs or alcohol,no criminal background,and cannot be around people that do,plain and simple,for life.I cannot volunteer or micro manage.Sometimes pills make it worse.I listen to wholesome music,and avoid movies the news tv and speaking or sharing when I don't want to.

Your comment is the most amazing testimony! You basically confirmed a lot of what I have been thinking regarding PTSD. It takes a lot of work and self discipline to get better. Not to mention responsibility to yourself. You are amazing. Thank you and the lord keep you safe.

Echo0fVision, I get it. There are very few therapists that are specifically trained in PTSD. Im lucky that I found one who has spent his life pursuing it, reading about it, talking only to PTSD patients. He even readily admits that "these other guys" they just don't get it. He's seen enough of it that he does get it. He's tried some amazing group therapy sessions and it was like catching lightning in a bottle. We all have each other to talk to now, as well as him. I would search for specific therapists that deal with only PTSD, and interview them. Yes, you ask the questions first. See if you click with them. As soon as I met my doc and he said something like "Listen, we're gonna get through this shit together, and it's gonna be shitty, I won't lie." I was like, This is my guy. Good luck, hang in there. Find others and speak to them. new friends with the same problems help a lot. we all understand each other, and we don't judge.

I lucked out as a child and spent 9 months with an amazing counselor, the type you could call at 2 a.m. because the memories were pulling you deeper into "the rabbit hole". He wasn't the type that went by a book, he experienced trauma himself. Prior and after him I found most counselors were not like him and didn't really understand.

My response to anyone who tells someone suffering from PTSD that "your ptsd isn't as bad as others" is that they can not judge that. Every person is different, some people are able to deal with traumatic experiences like they are nothing - others walk away having given up a part of their soul it feels.

I have told many people with ptsd (caused by different kinds of trauma) that I won't hide from what happened. That I refuse to allow the events that happened to me to define me, the past only has the power I want it to have.. In the end we need to remember we are the ones with the power in this moment, we can choose how much power it can retain. We can let the past trauma to break us and never come back from the rabbit hole because we are consumed by the dark - take a breathe - and embrace the light at the end of the tunnel.

I know the pain your in and fully understand your frustration. No one has the right to say my experience wasn't "enough" - I am me - I face my demons - not them. I still have flashbacks, I will always have triggers - but I do try to reduce the control they have over me.

I have completely understood the cost of being with a combat vet. I happen to be a woman who knows and no matter the stress or war your vet and u take on together! (After there return) or like me I chose this man when he felt no woman could love understand or stay because of Tbi and Ptsd. He went in knowing what very well could happen. Spent 10 years homeless denying anything was wrong to much pride as in basic sickness or anything of the sort was weakness and looked down on! He did not want to bring shame to the uniform and what it stands for. But never understood why ppl were afraid of him and family thought he lost it. Only made this wonderful man suffer more not understanding its ok to b hurt in combat. His incredibly intelligent brain lights up like a Christmas tree. But never calling himself a hero only he was proud to serve for his country. I am extremely disappointed in the va for not testing every man that comes home that was bombed or around active fire...burn pits... and so on solders should b treated as gold for putting there life on the line for us the min they step foot .... like a complete medical the spa treatment at the very least! Then should b given a home tax free... no honorable combat vet should ever have to worry about a home!!! Or health care!!! But not 1 man who came back different hurt then lost wife's cuz the woman... could not deal or know what or how to help there man only made it worse for them.... well i see no cowardly vet only a vet left behind and as a civilian I thought there were no vets left behind.???? And there needs to b classes woman take while her soldier is protecting us all so when he returns she knows how 2 help not make it worse for them. But never call these men a coward that only makes you one.

I completely understand what you are saying. I have been with one for 2 years now. I am a military vet myself but did not experience combat at all. I can deal with most of what his PTSD delivers, but there is one thing that constantly harms our relationship. I have discussed it with him numerous times, but it keeps happening. I want to love and trust him, but I am not sure I can. I have taken the time to understand his needs and adapted, and I ask for very little. I don't even get upset with him often at all because I understand what PTSD can do to someone from reading things and talking with him about it in depth, as well as being involved in all his care. I don't want to give up on him at all, but the one thing, the only thing, I have truly asked of him to not do, keeps happening, and I can't take the lies, and since I always end up finding out the truth in bad ways, I lose trust and faith in our relationship. I am sorry, I don't mean to bring drama, we are just at a make or break state and I truly do not want to give up on him. How can I get him to quit denying the things he does when I have told him over and over that if he were honest with me, and open about it, I would be understanding? It's sad that it's so bad in this moment because he has just started seeking out therapy with the VA. I was supposed to go to his next appointment with him, and I still want to, I just don't know if we can be saved. I don't know.

This letter explains so much the way it is for combat vets wives. My husband was I Hamburger Hill in Nam. I have his letters from Nam which explains the trauma he was going thru he received a Bronze star with V device for saving his unit under direct fire . When he came home he was not the same. Never talked about the war and the stuff that he wrote home about. He was so quick to anger. He couldn’t ever rest and had to be doing something all the time non stop. It was as though he hated me he never seemed to want anything to go well for me. I on the other hand knocked myself out everyday to make sure that I did everything in my power to make all things good for him because I knew the consequences and the crazy fits he was capable of. He was extremely jealous of my every move I took more abuse than most women would have ever taken. I loved him but I also hated the way he had become to be. I was always in the middle of him and my kids because I had to be. He passed away just before our 26 wedding anniversary he suffered from a cancer VA Denys for 3.5 years it was a horrible battle and he knew the outcome was death and he would not be there for his four kids and four small grandkids. Myself I blocked the severity I thought he was bigger and tougher than God. I seriously never seen the end coming. I wonder now how could I have blocked that. I am not sorry for the fact that I wanted and made sure he had whatever he wanted and needed in life because that became my way of life to keep peace in our home as stable as I could. The biggest thing that I regret and it haunts me daily is that I truly didn’t understand why he was so radical and why we were living a hate/Love relationship. I now understand the hell he was battling inside of hisself from the conflicts of war and it wasn’t all his fault. He died 22 years ago at the age of 47 battling in my eyes a worse battle than Nam and Hamburger Hill. I regret that I didn’t realize sooner that he suffered deeply from PTSD and it wasn’t him at all doing these horrible things it was the effects of his battles in Vietnam

I know what ur were going through I too went through most of what u went through but I think mines was a little bit worse he was aggressive and physical but I stayed trying to fix him and let him know I was there for him he has been on Prozac for over 22 or 23 years but he wouldn’t go to talk to any one right now he is in Va mental ward I no longer able to care for him he keep wanting to come home but for the last 23 years he has sit in our home only going to get cigarettes and wouldn’t let any in the house to fix or repair anything the house is not fit to live in I have lost my job insurance everything trying to make him ok he is 65 with heart trouble they have him on 5 different high blood pressure medication and 4 different kind of physotic medication but they want give him PTSD compensation to stay there cause he is not 70% I trying to figure out where he will have to go to keep the progress he has made I have been married for 44 years and I can’t take the stress any more I am praying God send me an answer soon cause they want to move him

My question is about chronic pain associated with PTSD. With successful treatment can you ever overcome the chronic pain?
Years ago (30+) I was given a surmise that my outcome for the future was poor. Of course it was in the early years of my pain and I didn’t believe what all the Dr said. I didn’t take to heart her diagnosis. Now of course so many years later I am in total agreement. So I hope there’s good news and with treatment that my prognosis will be good.

I never had problems with VA. They gave me a 100 percent rating less than a year after I got out of the army. I'm just saying that because I don't understand if you have a real claim with VA. They never gave me a problem with my 30 plus conditions but then I lost my memory before and after I joined the army. I didn't remember my family except for my brother and sister, no friends or dad or mom.

Okay, I'm just saying I wish I never developed PTSD and received TBI from the 30 RPG that landed a few feet from me but I didn't care because I was getting meds and many other treatments. Now I'm upset because the VA dropped the previous treatment plans saying meds are bad, get them off. I have a phys degree and I can't research their case studies for the papers way???? VA said I can't have physical therapy because it's not a long-term treatment for pain but they put me on 100 mg of opiates a day no problem. I stop the opiates and I'm not on meds I need to be but most doctors at VA can't give the correct meds or scared of not being employed, so what happened? With VA the government doing their own case studies and not taking others into theirs.

I read your post and I am so sorry. I wish I could help you. I understand what chronic pain is and I also understand what it's like for doctors taking away those painkillers because they're afraid of the government along with the penalties and God knows what else they have threatened doctors with in the civilian sector. I hope you get some kind of answer and help, true help, that will stop your symptoms all together.
I want to thank you for your service to this country as well as to protecting my family in America. I only wish that I could help you as much as you have given this country.
I will never forget your post...

I never had any problems with getting my 100% rating from VA, but I was a MSG Medic, so I knew a little bit about the system. Alot of times what happens is the Soldier who is failing the claim doesn't understand what is needed or fails to provide a complete claim with full explanation.

jamie - sounds pretty horrible what you are going through - i can tell you being off medicine didn't necessarily make me 'better' BUT the medicine wasn't actually getting rid of stuff - just masking it along with giving me unwanted side effects - and i could feel addiction was literally right around the next corner. the ONLY things that seem to help *(not necess cure - i wish!) are getting outdoors in nature, loving my dog, trying to BREATHE - slowly, eating better, no more booze, vitamins and occasionally meditation music with has been shown to change the brain for the better. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THERE ARE SO MANY WALKING RIGHT BESIDE YOU - EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T SEE US. GOD'S PEACE AND THANK YOU.

I was held hostage with a knife for 12 hrs before being strangled and beaten where I needed surgery for fractures to my face and devastatingly a stroke. I was diagnosed with PTSD 2 yrs later with flashbacks that he was coming back to finish me off. I can’t stand crowds but mostly sirens ambulances police etc. cause me to freeze and burst into tears. I’ve been in EMDR therapy now for one year and I’m starting to recognize my triggers and learn how to deal with them (breathing techniques, taking myself to calm places). I used to be like a cat in headlights whenever someone knocked on my door where I’ve made a few friends that I can trust. He killed himself two yrs ago and it was like he was no longer here but still wouldn’t leave me alone. I would just like to thank my therapist and if you have the chance to have this therapy. I still have my triggers but I’ve got my life back. I would recommend talk processing. It gets easier over time.

i'm sending you a hug that will last for the rest of you life (all i have to give)

My husband, Vietnam vet, alcoholic, denial, ptsd, mood swings. He has tried alcoholic groups, makes fun of them. Says he's not like those other trailer trash, low ranking idiots. Ptsd, confirmed also by VA. Denies completely. Refuses to take his medication.....uses alcohol instead. Lies and hides constantly. Denies also. Temper, hostile, accusatory, lashes out, has attacked my son for just existing, accuses me of sleeping with everyone. Says I have hired different people to kill him. Had me arrested for smacking him and breaking the tv. Told deputy I was heading for the kitchen to get a knife and kill him. Now he says to everyone and me that I have a proclivity to violence. Threatens me with foolish behavior, like, well you better find someone else to take you to the dr. Skips out on functions. Life beyond four walls is very infrequent, except to visit his son, who is also a combat vet. They drink together. Told off 88 and 95 year old family members to do what he says or he will remove them from his life. Has refused me access to my own medical records concerning my lung cancer. (Resolved) He no longer can take me to Duke. Has yelled at nurse and others at my gp's also. Yelled at me before, during and after about how I took care of my brother and handled his affairs afterwards. Yelled at 1 yr n 1 day later, b4 during, after about how I took care of my sister while she died and after how I handled her affairs. Has yelled at me all during my cancer diagnosis and surgeries and procedures. It's like if it's not everything focused on him, we all are out to get him. He hasn't allowed me to work...I have small ss check. If I leave, I have no insurance for the cancer. Any ideas? Please note, we have barely scratched the surface here. Desperate

Hi Debra, how are things now? I am not sure he has the right diagnosis, PTSD in my experience is mostly about trauma, but I guess it can affect people in different ways, it sounds like he has no coping tools, whatever is going on, I think he needs to get a second opinion & you would need to make a verbal report.

Please leave. No one can have a relationship while this is going on or cope with surgeries & be well with this going on.
Please focus on your health & reach out if you need support to leave take a friend or a community worker with you when you are packing to go. Try & book in to a respite clinic for some rest for cancer :) don't tell him where you are just take this time for yourself to have peace, look after yourself you deserve this. Ask a friend to help you remove your son from his home while you get care.

pls google 'battered women's syndrome' - no one should have to live in the conditions that you are in - there should be a hotline that will come up when you google - someone will be able to help you. don't give up on hope. God's peace all around you...

I am sorry.......I feel your pain. I finally got out and I am glad and sad. There was so much damage done I now am alone and not one person is here to help. They all say time to help myself. Okay. Now that I really need physical help. All the trauma has almost killed me literally. I will pray for you. Sign up for housing now the waiting lists are horrific.

Yes, leave.


Very strange to me to write this. I am Veteran, never took life. Those of you who have or did God bless your spirit. But I saw plenty of it. I saw the horror of war and the aftermath. When I was back on base I took up my normal duties of a military police officer. Like clock work I saw the war continued in returning soldiers from deployment. Anger, violence, domestic abuse, and even homicide and or suicides. I buried it all. Never let it get to me. Now, almost 5 years out of the service I cannot stop seeing it, hearing it, smelling it. My anxiety is through the roof and I seem to not fit in to society anymore.I am tired of feeling afraid, of hating people, and of this isolation inside my own head. I guess I need to seek some people who can relate. I love overseas and have no VA near me, no Americans for that matter hardly, and I just feel lost. Am I crazy to feel this after being out so long now? Am I broken for life? Any words of advice welcome.

you are not crazy. that IS PTSD. in my opinion, most of us on the planet are 'broken'. yet we can choose what for the most part, we expose ourselves to now - good or bad; and what we put out there, good or bad. sometimes i just fall asleep praying *(to keep out the bad thoughts); and if i get a panic attack in the night - i do everything i can to breathe slowly and pray again.. exhausting, but it does make a difference. sometimes i even pray, "God, please give me something positive to think about." bc as people with PTSD know, it alot of work to over-ride the thoughts that race through that you DO NOT want to think about, remember, etc.... it was all i could think to write - hope this helps you buddy

Its normal and common for people to feel as you do sometimes it can come about later on fotr no reason or a trigger like a failed or stressful relationship. Principally not having a group or prople who have similar backgrounds as you as support can leave one isolated and paranoid, more so if you have anxiety problems. Try to skype or do whatever you can to establish a reconnect to people from your past or youth from where your from. Im sure many of them would be really interested in your experiences and by talking about things it will release some ptsd or anxieties and give you a base of support from familiar grounds. Best of luck. Dont give up and look for outlets you havnt explored.

My past was filled with traumatic stress (35+ years). Hell, tumbling in a Rodeo down an embankment and waking up hours later to a broken leg and stuck in the truck is serious traumatic stress. We go into the "Fight or Flight" stage of reaction to any traumatic event. Most trained Vets, Police, Rescue Officers or Medics fight by instinct. That's you. So, all of these events hit you with traumatic stress, but you effectively navigated your way out at that moment. What happens next is thinking about what just happened. Often, we find ways to stop thinking about that moment by distraction or internalizing the feelings. Some of us might deflect/repress this thinking for 20+ years, but we still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress. Good God, getting back into a vehicle after my tumble was horrific, but I had no other option. That event happened 18 years ago and I'm still hypervigilant when driving. Does that mean I have a "Disorder" to align with my PTS? No. Why? I trained myself to handle the situation and I am so the best driver ever now :-) - Killing and watching death follows the same fundamental process (I'm not equating death to a car accident). The more death I saw, the more training I conducted in my head. I had to change my thinking, deliberately. The same thing you did for so many years until it caught up with you. I am diagnosed with PTSD and all that comes with it. Been through so many different programs, different therapies, and different conversations to help pull me out this hole. All those emotions you describe are symptoms I went through. For me, they all popped out at the same time and freaked me out. Alcohol was my doctor for 11 solid years. Having new body parts, 30+ surgeries and over 8 years deploying proved alcohol was the best medicine for me. Unfortunately, I still allowed my thinking to keep me distant from everyone and anything reminding me of those stressful traumatic events. If you're crazy, over 20 million others stand with you. So, no - you are NOT crazy UNLESS you make yourself stay the course. Change your thinking, change your life. You have to get back to that point where you had a proper perspective of events and functioned without the thought you have now. The first thing the Shrink does is put you on Wellbutrin to shift your mood. Bwahaha - Most Vets agree this drug is crap. Then they try to help with anxiety (you know, that piece of you that can't stop thinking or moving?) by prescribing some benzodiazepines. Oh, these drugs will help take that edge off, but recent studies prove they only hurt more than help those of us suffering from PTSD. Good article: - God help you if you find one of the many fake Shrinks out there. They'll have you on8 different meds with each having side-effects with the other. Brother, if you desire to stay broken for life, maintain your current thought process. You will choose your path by choosing how to think about the past, present, and future. The only thing MAN controls is his thinking. Fight hard. Distract your mind so you reflect less on all those traumatic events. I found working my distraction. Exercise to induce the endorphins you need for your mood swings back to "happy." Finally (the hardest), socialize. Humans are designed to interface with other humans. Without that interaction, you stay isolated and retain the cycle you are in now. God Bless you, Brother! You are at war but within yourself. You need a "Strategy" for winning this war. Once you own your strategy, you'll develop tactics, techniques and procedures to win each of the daily battles you face.

These events visiting you are quite proud of kind to saw things and the effect they have had on you means you are empathetic to those who suffered the matters of horror. There are many out there like you. You are not alone. I used long walks along the beach...try find a new partner and take them with you.

32 years ago I was in the PX bombing in Frankfurt. I hid it all this time but now it's too heavy to carry anymore. What I went through is nothing compared to you guys today, but each night for this time if I sleep I get blown up, I normally go 3-5 days awake NOS and coffee but I'm tired of it all. Really thinking of leaving society all together live on my farm no power no outside contact. I'm tired not weak just fucking done

Hi Greg,

I was on the Reaction Force for the C W Abrams Complex and V Corps Headquarters. I was in the Frankfurt PX parking lot when the car bomb detonated. I had been in the Army for 6 months, then.

I know how you feel. I am a 100% disabled veteran, today, rated for PTSD. I have sleep issues nightmares and multiple other issues, too. I live on my very remote farm and keep to myself, mostly.

The VA is little help. Just want to put you on a bunch of drugs. I have no use for that. I got jerked around for years by the VA with low ball ratings until I hired a VA law attorney. I got 100% in 4 months after turning him loose on the VA. The VA is a corrupt and lawless entity and a lawyer can roll their goat smelling asses up, most rickety tick.

My symptoms got gradually worse as I got older. This is common. We do better when we are younger. I started getting fired from jobs in my mid-40's. I don't play well with pencil necks and others who practice stupidity. I drank heavily from 1985 until last year. Drunk was the only time that I could laugh. I got lucky in 2010. My uncle retired from the VA after 30 years and got me started in the right direction. I went through good therapy for about 18 months at a small VA hospital as an outpatient for PTSD evaluation. The big city VA hospitals are veteran meat grinders, where I am from.

If you don't have VA access, file a disability claim for tinnitus (ringing in the ears). They will approve that without issue. My uncle put me onto that. I was rated at 10% disabled with approval of my claim. Once rated, you are in the system. You can use veteran service organizations like the American Legion, VFW or a county Veteran rep to file simple claims, like for hearing. Do not waste your time using them for anything other than very simple claims.

The VA practices chaos and insanity, by the minute, and their rules and regulations defy logic. They will roll up and blow away a veteran service rep and don't give a tinker's damn if he likes it or not. They will give up and go away whereas a lawyer will dig in, get mad and rip ass. You do not have to pay the attorney in advance. He gets a very fair percentage of the back pay award once he wins your claim. No win- no pay.

With VA and Social Security Disability, you can make $4,600.00 a month at the 100% rating. Will money cure PTSD? No, but it doesn't hurt. In my case, it has greatly started me on the path to better mental health. I no longer have the stress of worrying about money, or dealing with the suck holes from the bank trying to take my home and farm or appeasing a college punk at a job, that walked in and got the boss job with no industry experience. I spent a year on my farm and began to decompress.

I have had horrible anxiety attacks since my time in the Army. I started with one or two a year in my younger days and progressed to upwards of four per month in my latter years. I get true spinning with profuse vomiting and am incapacitated for 48 hours during an attack. These have greatly reduced with my having the ability to stay on my farm and have control of all of my time, when I need to, without fear of loosing a job and all of the stress that goes with that.

I am beginning to get a handle on my issues, on my own. I am slowly developing my own coping mechanisms. I have stopped the 8 to 10 beers a day habit for starters. I started going to American Legion meetings and hanging out with other guys like me. I am not much for crowds but this crowd is a barrel of squirrels like me. I look forward to the meetings. It is good to be around guys that have been there.

Luckily, I had role models growing up who had been there. One was my Uncle Woodrow. Woodrow had severe PTSD but was able to function. He retired early while still young, was very financially stable and stayed home, when he needed to, as long as he needed, and would get back out when he felt better. Woodrow was a Marine Infantryman from 1940 to 1946. He fought at Guadalcanal, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. He was in a Special Weapons Group and was deployed, every time, prior to the initial landings. He was 92 when he died. I never saw him loose control until the very end. I asked him how he did it. He said, "I have come aparts, but I do it at home where nobody but my wife sees and I stay home, to myself, until I am better".

The basic secrets to success: full control of your time, financially stable, and a safe place to be at until you are better. Are these the answers to everything ? No, but its a damn good start G.I.

I hope this helps Brother. Shout out at me on this forum if I can help answer any questions.

Helping others like us get better helps me get better. I want you to know that I won my case against the VA under very poor and daunting odds. When I ETS'ed, the Army no longer sent our medical records to the NPRC in St. Louis. They were sent directly to the VA. I had one record as proof of being at the Frankfurt PX during the bombing. I was denied on claims over and over and had to learn by trial and error. Their basis for every claim denial: NO HISTORIC MEDICAL RECORDS FROM THE PERIOD OF SERVICE. My response: WTF? I sent them a demand for copies of all of my medical records. They produced a half-dozen battalion aid station medical records and one minor hospital record from 1985 to 1987 from Germany. I sent a second demand letter. Where are my hospital, troop medical clinic and dental records covering 15 years in service? Poof, sorry! They could not be produced! Ain't that special. Lost my records and then rolled a grenade under my lawn chair.

Turns out, all the records from before about 2000 are still in paper form and the VA uses a highly complex filing system to store them. They take big stacks of paper, your medical records, and put a big red rubber band around them and put them in big piles, with other's medical records, that are stacked from floor to ceiling against the wall and from the wall to several feet out from the wall, and this has all been accomplished in a very long storage room. This, boys and girls, is known as the VA Grabasstic Table of Disorganization. Picture this: Low-level FNG VA bureaucrat gets sent down to the paper pits of Hell and realizes that he has to dig through 65 tons of old stinky paper in an effort to locate veteran Joe Sh--bird's records. Well, after 10 minutes and sweating his $95.00 silk shirt through, he pulls an old Spec 4 Mafia trick, and goes and hides in some office under the AC for two hours. Upon returning, he announces that he cannot locate any records for that POS veteran and asks who has the big red CLAIM DENIED stamp. Dry your tears boys and girls, like my lawyer says, "There's an APP for that". "Cover me boys, I'm going in HOT!" When the smoke and fire clears, you will be victorious, cause showing the VA a lawyer is like showing Dracula the Cross.

FACT: 85% percent of VA claims adjudicators and raters are not qualified to access ANY claims. Veteran claims lawyers know this and rip ass in review hearings.

My advice Brother Greg, go for it and get yourself some peace! Please excuse my drill sergeant flashback and the ramblings of a politically incorrect old grunt. I won for the same incident and you can too. You deserve it!

My husband retired with 32 years of service and has PTSD. He does well for a while but suddenly he snapps, and starts to hide through the house. Can you help me understand why is this happening?

Faith, your husband's behavior is consistant with brain injuries from blast or blunt force head injury. Did he suffer any of these? If so, he needs to be evaluated by a qualified Nuerologist. The evaluation should include an EEG, CT Scan, MRI and behavioral symptoms and evaluation by the Nuerologist. Many times, the scans may not show results. Brain injuries are tricky. In my case, an EEG showed indications of seizure activity consistant with blast TBI. Do not let the VA or Tri-Care pukes blow you off on these tests. There are over 90,000 of us walking around, right now, with untreated Traumatic Brain Injuries. I was wounded in two IED attacks in 1985. I was 22 years old. My symptoms did not manifest until in my late 40's and got much worse in my early 50's. I had multiple concussions in service from the IED's, two armored vehicle crashes and shooting missles. Am now a 100% Disabled Veteran. I take medication to help with symptoms. Before taking any medication from the VA, I see my civilian doctor for a referal to a specialist for a second opinion on the VA's prescription. I have to pay for these doctor visits but it is well worth it. In a couple of cases, my civilian doctor told me not to take what the VA had prescribed. They don't call it "Candy Land" for nothing. Manifestation of symptoms, older in life, is very common. I am not a doctor but I have a vast ammount of experience with PTSD and TBI. I live in a town with the most prolifically deployed National Guard Brigade Combat Team in America. It has been continueously deployed since 2003. There are hordes of disabled veterans here.
Talk to your husband during his calm periods and form a plan to see a Nuerologist or your primary care doctor. I did not seek help on my own. Luckily I had an uncle that had retired from the VA. After talking, he stated "Boy, you have PTSD". I went to the VA and started to get treatment. Group PTSD counseling is good for me. Do not get into a group with a bunch of guys telling horror stories. I got into one of those. I left immediately. I got my own horror stories and don't need to hear others. Where group is beneficial is when we can share methods as to how we cope with issues and symptoms. Over time, we figure out our own paths to coping. Input from others like us can help us to figure out our own path. Another uncle was a Marine from 1940 until 1946 in the Pacific War. He had the same symptoms as your husband. They first manifested when he was in his 60's. He did short stays in the hospital and was good to go after a few days.


All I can say is ditto ditto ditto PTSD TBI SUICIDAL ARMY 911 Kuwait Iraq Migraines etc. blackouts and now a head on collision last Thursday following a blackout. Ready for all this to END! 7 broken vertebrae extenders 5 broken ribs, punctured lung, broken sternum and all. PAIN PAIN PAIN mental and physical... just saying. If I say how I feel I'll just end back up in a psych ward where vets should not be without shoelaces 502INF vet.

Hi bud,
Please hang in there. I was dignosed with PTSD from Dessert Storm but the VA won't recognized that. It had been 3 years and 2 months now. So I hired me a lawyer and finally everything is moving rather quickly. Actually too quick. If you need someone to talk to please e-mail at I will try my very best to help each one of us.

Brother, I also was part of the W.S.R.P. and was sent forward to the 7th corp and then to the 3rd AD they had the job to spearhead for the 7th under Gen Franks. We also got the old Green Weenie because once we got back to our home units, that stayed behind and I even caught two NCOs, staff sergeants, E-6 rank, trying to convince the new 1st sergeant to let them stay behind. I made sure that everyone within ear shot and beyond knew what cowards they were. To add insult to injury non of the officers would help us when we got back. It seems that you and I have walked on and down the same roads. Please don't give up, I to fell that all the shi# gets handed to me. Once on guard duty we watch while some young people, our same ages they probably grow up to be some of those left wing liberals we all love so much, were out having some fun. He looked at me and said don't you sometimes fell like that little Dutch boy, the only one working and looking out for everyone else while they all partied. PS. God help the less than 10% of the nation that choice to serve.

Anonymous, hiding behind no name, your political accusation about left wing liberals is misguided and out of place on this forum. There are many "left wing liberal" veterans suffering from PTSD, and for you to discount them is cowardly and a dis-service to their service. Shame on you for being so ignorant and narrow minded.

" left wing liberal" female ptsd vet here! I love all my fellow vets regardless of our political differences.

Hey weapon system replacement soldier in the 3rd ID. Desert Strom. I to was called up. Sent to the 7th corp and assigned to the 3AD to help spear head against the republican guard. Like you when it was over we were sent back to our units without orders for CIBS and our home unit could give we'll you know what. I got out about 2 years later. Came home and got married shortly afterwards my PTSD showed its ugly head. My wife held on for a while then we finally went our separate ways 10 years later we meet again and rekindle the fire I was so happy. But then she started to tell me about her relationships with other men in detail, I lost it. I did not want to hear these things about the woman that I had once put on a pedestal because of the things she led me to believe about herself and her family. Last seven years before we remarried I was doing great. Off the drugs working part time at a lawn service making ends meet and feeling good: now that I've been with her for 2 years my PTSD is back with vengeance and I'm now taking three different kinds of medication that I wasn't taking before we got back together please help me. Was I wrong in not wanting to hear about her relationships in detail or should I have let her talk no matter how much it hurt me inside. She said she told me these things because she wanted me to know in case I found out later and ran, but the one thing she did not tell me about was more than likely the most important. She gave me an STD that cannot be wash away and she did not tell me for roughly 3 months. A veteran lost in my mind. Please tell me was I wrong and not wanting to hear her stories or should I let her tell me about no matter how much it hurts me inside. Looking for an answer should I stay married or should I leave and try to find the happiness I had before alone although all this is happened to me I would gladly serve again anytime if I could. PS I also served in Iraqi freedom.

Went to the gulf war with 3rd infantry division, stayed in bio hazard suit for days, had to take the pills and got a bio hazard shot, and was caught in a friendly fire incident when a private discharged his weapon in the Bradley fighting vehicle right next to me. Then he pulled the pin on a grenade playing with it. Talk about stressful. I got into Kuwait and saw all the burned bodies in vehicles I ever want to see. I was out on perimeter security for so long in the pitch black I started imagining things that weren't there. I got home and became physically ill. And the nightmares started, insomnia, anger, anxiety and depression. I did not trust anyone. My family suffered because I didn't know how to relate how I was feeling. Some days I could not go out to go to work. After over 20 years my wife gave me a choice: get help or else. She was the only one working and that made life hard on her. I did get diagnosed with ptsd, went to Texas rep to apply for compensation and he told me "yes, you went to war but you did not get a combat infantry badge, so sorry about your luck but it is not going to happen." Wow, I wish I would have been killed over there, Is this how America treats the Combat vets? On the other hand I should have went AWOL. Life for me and my family has been horrible. Maybe I will get lucky and die and the nightmares of the hell we have been through will be over!! Thanks for nothing America. I am no better off than I was before I asked for help: broke, hungry and unemployable. CG X-Sgt/E-5 name is Judy..first of all..I want to Thank You Sir for your service and for protecting us from harm Sir. Wow! Sounds like you need to just find a nice beautiful warm place to live away from all worries and stress. I hate that you guys have to go through this crap. Please be good to yourself. Ask God to guide you and protect you..and he will. I know things are hard but if I were in your shoes I would move where there is nature or move where there is ocean and beauty.

amen to that - deserves an oasis <3