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Rage and PTSD

  • Asks ...

    My husband is an Afghan war vet and he is now dealing with PTSD as well as lingering physical trauma injuries. He gets PTSD counseling with the VA but after about a year of therapy he doesn’t seem that much improved to me.

    I feel really terrible to be thinking this, but I am not sure how much longer I can endure. The problem is his anger. We will be having a nice day as a family and then some little thing will set him off and he’ll go into a blind rage, even smashing furniture and whatever else gets in his way. I understand that this is a part of his condition and I (try) not to take it personally and I try to be supportive, but it is really draining to always be waiting for the shoe to drop and for the explosion to come.

    We also have 2 small children. They are too young to understand why daddy gets so mad, but they can feel it. He is never physically abusive to any of us.

    I was prepared to stand by him and I think that this is the right thing to do and I know that his anger is not his fault. But since things don’t seem to be getting any better after a year of therapy, I honestly don’t know if I can stand this emotional roller coaster for the rest of my life. If he is not better after a year is likely to get better ever?

  • Ed Schmookler Says ...
    Ed Schmookler


    Your situation is quite serious, and I take it very seriously.

    I think your questions are very appropriate. I will answer the best I can, but I will also have questions for you.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can go on, but it can also be treated. The effectiveness of the treatment depends on what is actually being done.  The VA can be good or not so good, in my experience. If his rages are continuing unabated, then he may need additional or different therapy.  Maybe the VA offers other options, maybe he will have to go outside of the VA to get help.  He may also benefit from anger management, which is not therapy but may be very important for him in learning how to deal with his rage.  

    He should not just continue with this therapy without having a clear understanding from his therapist(s) that his rage is being dealt with. 

    Is he just in group therapy?  Is he just getting meds?  Does he have an individual therapist?  Does the therapist know about his rage?

    It may also be important to consider doing couples' therapy.  Have you told your husband what you feel about his raging?  Do you feel safe in bringing this up with him?  If not, then you might need to do it in the context of couples therapy. 

    Have you spoken with the therapist(s) at the VA about what is going on?  They may be unaware of his rage and therefore not dealing with it at all.

    Is he drinking or doing drugs, and is that part of the conditions of his raging?  If so, it would be imperative that he get treatment for that.

    I would like to make sure that you get the best help possible here, because a lot of lives are involved (your husband, you, and your children).  Rage is serious and divorce is serious.  

    If you are willing to talk with me further, you can either comment here or you can email me at [email protected].


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