Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Might Be Husband's Problem

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Might Be Husband's Problem


Byline: Vicki Johnson, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband returned from his fourth deployment in September and it has been hell living with him ever since. To be honest, he seemed to have changed with each deployment, but this last one seemed to be the worst for him.

I'm not sure what he saw or what his experience was, but something is very wrong with him and he refuses to report it or get help. He has terrible nightmares, so much that I'm afraid to sleep with him for fear that he may hurt me. I know he would not willfully hurt me, but I just don't know what could happen while he is asleep and flailing his arms and kicking.

He drinks alcohol every day when he comes home from work and all of the time on the weekends. He eats very little food. He refuses to talk about it when I try to get him to open up. He just says nothing is wrong with him. This can't be true.

Ms. Vicki, he didn't even want to go to his family reunion in Oregon this summer. This is not like him; he would never miss a family reunion. All he does is stay alone. I'm at my wit's end and I don't know how to get him to get help.

Should I give him an ultimatum? Do you have any suggestions? How can I convince my husband in a loving way to get some help? - Wife Stressed By War

Dear Wife,

Thank you for writing and sharing your story with me and others. I know there are many spouses out there, both male and female, who can identify with your situation.

First, it appears that your husband is suffering from combat-stress-related reactions. You report he has completed his fourth deployment. Research shows combat stress increases with each deployment. He also has some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I will not try to give him that diagnosis because as a clinician I believe much testing should be done before giving someone a PTSD diagnosis.

It's imperative that your husband be seen by a medical professional. There are many resources available to help him. Your question to me was how to encourage him to get help. This is the hard part, because we can't make him get help; he will have to want to do so.

During his redeployment, he attended seven days of reintegration that included a health screening. …

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