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Angry Outbursts From FireFighter Husband - Could It Be PTSD ?

by Carol

With each year that passes my husband has more time on the job. That is a good thing.

However, recently, I've noticed an increase in the frequency and intensity of my husband's angry outbursts. At times they seem to be full blown rage.

I don't believe he's depressed or bi-polar or manic-depressive. However - he is a firefighter in a busy city! Could the behavior be a result of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)? He does risk his life at terrible fires, view bloody car accidents, and see death from heart attacks to suicide to drowning.

Everyone including his family, firmly believe that he's so strong and unaffected by the job. I did too for a long time. But if war can have a detrimental effect on some military staff - so shouldn't an equally gruesome career?

Please let me know your thoughts.

I'm quite concerned about us and know I cannot take the verbal abuse much longer.

Thank you very much for any assistance that you might provide.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Carol, and thanks for telling your story here. Your question about PTSD is a very valid one. Exposure to extreme danger, death and physical trauma on an ongoing basis can definitely produce the symptoms you're describing.

It also makes sense that you cannot take the verbal abuse much longer. I'm glad you're taking action on your own behalf, at the same time you're concerned about your husband.

I know that in some cities, there are informal support groups made up of firefighters, police officers and former military men who get together to talk and support each other. I don't have a specific reference to offer you, but you might ask among your contacts and see if you can find out if there's one in your area.

You may also find support groups for firefighter's wives in your area. I did a Google search, and found more links to firefighter wives' support groups than any other.

The main thing is that your husband has to acknowledge that he's having a problem.

I am not offering a diagnosis of your husband, having never met with him. You do definitely have some reasonable concerns, and I encourage you to continue seeking information about PTSD. Just enter "PTSD" or "post traumatic stress disorder" in the search box at the top of the home page, and you'll find all of those pages.

Take good care of yourself, Carol.

And support your husband in every way you know how.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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Sep 10, 2019
Verbally Abusive Boyfriend
by: Anonymous

I'm with a firefighter Captain who is on overload at his job, and periodically is extremely irritable and insensitive. I know that this profession is extremely stressful including loss of sleep, witnessing suicides, overdoses, heart attacks, etc. as well as the responsibility he has of his crew's actions and safety.

Due to the extreme pressures, I feel the need to try to help it without compromising myself along the way.

We are in couples counseling where we are trying to work things out. I wonder if anyone has been through this and come out the other side together.

Aug 14, 2010
Angry Outbursts from firefighter husband ptsd
by: Shannon H. Pennington

Your husband needs to connect to our web site located at, along with yourself. Anger is a sign. There is lots of help if he wants it for him and for you via the west coast post trauma retreat located as a link on the front page of the web site. Use the following acronyms to help him and you understand the problem. H.E.A.T. he is giving heat and taking heat from his out of control anger...means Heavy Emotional Afterthoughts. H.O.T. meaning Hazardous overload of thoughts . W.E.T. meaning wasted emotional thoughts and A.I.R. meaning accept individual responsibility for your actions. Project F.I.R.S.T. S.T.E.P. H.O.P.E. is on the web site and explained. Take the time to explore all the web pages and the links.

I am a ptsd survivor and have served 26 years full time as an IAFF professional. I now run the web site with 9 other ptsd firefighter veterans.

Jul 14, 2010
by: C.R.D.

Dear Carol,

I understand you may think your husband has PTSD. I can tell you I have PTSD, and I have been going through EMDR (eye desensitization) for over a year. Although I have PTSD, I am responsible for my actions, such as if I were to verbally abuse someone. I am going through the effects of emotional and verbal abuse from my husband and know your frustration. It is important that you recognize you are in an abusive relationship FOR WHATEVER REASON. You see, us women tend to downplay the situation and protect the relationship. It is natural for us. However; you have needs, and one them is the need for respect. If you feel he is not respecting you, be proactive and contact a woman's abuse group and simply talk and see what other women in that situation have to say. If you want to save your marriage such as I want to save my marriage, you will have to take measures such as therapy for yourself (to vent and not eventually act out) and marital counseling. It is important your husband goes into therapy. Find him someone who deals with PTSD and/or going to that group therapy the Dr. DeFoore mentioned. Whatever your decision, stick to it and create boundaries. No woman (or man) should ever be called names and have to worry about angry outbursts. It is him not you. You did nothing wrong and even if you did, you do not deserve to be lashed at. We are all human and deserve respect!

Best of luck, keep me informed.


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