2012 Shows

(Original Air Date: 04/19/12) Explosions, gunfire, violent death -- these horrific images and sounds are the reality for soldiers on the front lines, fighting for our freedom. But what happens when the horror follows them home, making them feel out of place in the life they left behind, and often unrecognizable to family and friends? Dr. Phil delves into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how it can destroy families, dismantle marriages and leave its victims reliving a nightmare. Beth says since her son, Matt, returned from Iraq, he is no longer the fun-loving and respectful son she knew, but is instead a man with a faraway, dark look on his face, with a short fuse and a temper that scares everyone around him. Matt says he’s haunted by the things he saw and did while at war, but says he wishes he could go back, because struggling to cope with his rage in civilian life is far worse. He admits he’s turned to prescription pills to numb his pain and illegal activities to feel an adrenaline rush. Can Dr. Phil help Matt reclaim his place as a loving partner to his girlfriend and father to his 3-year-old daughter? Then, Heather made national headlines when her Army Sergeant husband, Duane, beat her and set her on fire. Was PTSD to blame? In a Dr. Phil exclusive, Heather shares why her nightmare is far from over. And, Mark says his life has been destroyed by his PTSD, and if he can’t get it under control, he’s afraid of what he may do to himself and the people he loves most. Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and author of The PTSD Breakthrough, offers new hope for PTSD sufferers and their families. You don’t have to be a soldier at war to suffer from PTSD -- if you’ve survived a traumatic event, tune in!

Find out what happened on the show.
Replied By: soldierpat on Aug 12, 2014, 3:27PM
I was diagnosed with severe chronic PTSD in 1990. Let alone to say I just went through the motions the last 20 years. I received my service dog in May 2014 and since then my life is slowly changing.

I still have many issues and therapy to find to deal with the various aftermaths of PTSD and the 20 years of social isolation that followed, but first time in 20 years actually went into the TSO clinic and started the process of reevaluating my condition and getting some help.

My daughter sees a difference as do many around me.

I encourage you to seek out this option. I can't explain it but when my blood pressure goes up my dog is there. When night terrors arrive he wakes me up so I don't end up thinking about the nightmare all night. Bussy petting his belly as when I cry or have issues he becomes quite demanding of Attention the positive kind

Hope God blesses you all on your journey, mine is just beginning
Replied By: ringo09 on Nov 13, 2012, 12:20AM
Major-General John Cantwell fought in both the Iraq wars. In 2010 he commanded the Australian troops in Afghanistan. Upon his return, he was in the running to be the Chief of Army - instead, he found himself in a psychiatric ward. In an extract from his new book, Cantwell reveals how his active service left him a damaged man.
"A battle is being waged between my rational intellect and my damaged mind. When the guilt reduces me to tears, or when the anger blinds me to the hurtful things I say, or when I convulse in fear at the slamming of a door, the real me - the thinking person who has led soldiers in battle and managed the most complex problems - watches aghast at the blubbering, twitching, confused fool I have become. I'm a mess. And my darling Jane bears the brunt of my despair. I add shame to the list of emotions swirling in my mind. I've become a person I despise." Exit Wounds by Major General John Cantwell with Greg Bearup (MUP)

Replied By: ringo09 on Nov 13, 2012, 12:01AM
Home safe, but left torn by the horrors of war: 

Major-General John Cantwell fought in both the Iraq wars. In 2010 he commanded the Australian troops in Afghanistan. Upon his return, he was in the running to be the Chief of Army - instead, he found himself in a psychiatric ward. In an extract from his new book, Cantwell reveals how his active service left him a damaged man. (Exit Wounds by Major General John Cantwell with Greg Bearup (MUP0))


Replied By: gspd416 on Aug 10, 2012, 8:29AM
Dr. Phil.

I have been married to a police officer for over 35 years. He is now retired but suffers from PTSD. It is a silent killer for police officers who deal daily for years with situations that most of us could not even imagine.  There is a great video on youtube about this.  Police officers are stigmatized if they go for help more so than any other profession.  Please watch this video and consider doing a show on Cops and PTSD...thanks for the show on military and PTSD. I have a brother who served in Iraq and he suffers from this. We pray all the time that he is healed from this.

Replied By: cincon on Aug 10, 2012, 8:06AM
I write with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart for all those that suffer from PTSD and I include the families of these veterans as well.  My heart brakes for my sister daily to see what has turned a charmed life into a living nightmare.  My brother-in-law is gone except for the shell that carries his tortured soul.  I am forever researching, seeking ways to help but nobody can help a man that turns away from treatment time after time.   I suffer from depression myself and will need medication for the rest of my life.  Even that took 10 years of constant medical care and medicine trials to find the answer that brought me back to being me   I mention that only because it helps me understand if only in a very small way.   I believe that, if you haven't experienced it, you cannot understand at the same level of someone that has.  It has taken years for my sister to realize that some of the symptoms she blames on his drinking are really not that at all.  That brings me to the problem.  She lives in a vicious circle of treatment, medication, alcohol, hospitalization.  What makes a man chose alcohol over treatment???  I am so frustrated!!!  With treatment and medication he does well for a period of time then suddenly shuts down. He will NOT open up to anyone.  He refuses now to talk to a phsychiatrist or phsychologist.  He gets nasty to my sister, tells her he is sick of her mouth when she is only trying to help and she has now given up.  I am worried that something bad will happen to her at the hands of this previously fun-loving, gentle man.  What can we do???????

I have read many of the comments here and wish so strongly that there was an answer for all that suffer from PTSD!   I'm so very sorry for everything you are all going through.
Replied By: meltina1 on Aug 10, 2012, 6:26AM - In reply to gypsygraph
My heart reached out to you when I read your comment about your husband's PTSD.  My husband is a Vietnam vet and just within the past few years finally agreed to get help from the Veterans' Administration.  It has made a world of difference in our lives.  If your husband has not yet gotten into the VA health system, he should do so ASAP.  It is a lengthy process, but worth the time and effort in the end.  Your husband deserves their help and compensation.  If you live in an area where there is a local American Legion, VFW, or DAV (Disabled Veterans for America), please encourage him to go talk to them.  They should be able to help with the necessary paperwork (or direct him to someone who can).  The thing that helped my husband the most (after he got into the VA system) in addition to regular visits with VA psychiatrists and counselors, was the group therapy sessions (where combat veterans meet with other veterans on a regular basis and they feel freer to discuss their issues with others who have gone through similar experiences than with someone who has not been in their shoes).   The group sessions at our local VA center also lead to an unexpected plus - the fact that we have made some very good social friends as well.  We even had  "spouses" group meetings on a regular basis for a couple of years, to help the spouses talk about their experiences with their PTSD-diagnosed veteran.   Interest wained, so we are not doing it anymore, but several couples still meet every Saturday for breakfast together.

I wish you and your husand and family the best in your efforts to deal with his PTSD and thank him for his service to our country.
Replied By: cynicrealist on Aug 10, 2012, 3:25AM
in years past there have been different names for the same ailment. civil war it was "soldiers heart" ww1 it was shell shock. ww2 it is combat fatigue. viet nam comes along and its called ptsd. since viet nam and until today the incidence of p.t.s.d. have been rising greatly.

during ww2 combat troops would go in take an area and most likely be moved back in lieu of support troops holding the position. the moving back sometime out of the war zone gave the soldier a time to unwind, relax and process the information.

in viet nam the troops went in and fought for an area and STAYED there or moved to another combat zone. the same applies with our troops today. that system of going in and staying in needs to be changed. there also needs to be a more relaxed  rotation period and more often.

the other thing is that when the troops comes home theres all the parades and firworks and brass bands, but when all the celebration is over the soldier goes on about his life and sometimes we are obivious to what goes on inside the soldiers head.

recognizing the malady is easy, treating it is a different matter and it has to be addressed earlier for there to be anything positive to happen.

Replied By: chaplainbubba on Aug 9, 2012, 11:01PM
I belive todays millitary return home from the battle feild to quick. All wars have been hell, so what is the differance? In past war it took days and weeks befor a millitary personel went home from the battelfield,now its almost hours. I remember returning from 7 months at sea it took 4 days crossing the Atlantic. At home we tied up to the pier, only a few were able to go home.Some of those had another day or two, all this time travel helped decompress.I remember when I was a child thier was a guy in our town who was drunk most of the time, rode a bycycle and just didn't seem to have it togather. My mom told me he came back from the war with shell shock.today that would be PTSD.I don't know how many of the towns 250 resident went to war but he was the only one we knew of who was shell shock. Today there maybe five or six. This genration sees life a bit different, weapons of war are different, travel time is different who has time to deal with the hell they just left behined? What of those who went through more hell than others? Also take note it is not just a male problem it is also females who have this same problem.I would like to see all war zone and battelfeild personel take at least 4 or 5 days(should be weeks) to decompress, mandatory psychological evaluation and if they wish see a Chaplain as well,so be it.They need some time,some more than others,please give it to them.
Replied By: woundedwarrior on Aug 9, 2012, 8:35PM - In reply to erinmjw
I hope you can get your son the help he needs this is all so sad and not fair. IDK what else to say. My youngest son is suffering from PTSD, TBI, from a tour in Afganastan.  And my oldest son is a recoving herion addict so I can truly understand what you are going through.

God bless
Replied By: spunkyguy on Aug 9, 2012, 5:15PM
Hi Dr. Phil

I'm a former Marine, combat vet that served in VietNam. I've suffered with the affects of PTSD since coming back. It's only in the last few years that I've sought out help and have made some strides with my situation.

The two men that you had on your program today have what most of us that have PTSD call 'classic sysmtoms. Anger, anxiety, depression, flash backs and more. It's nice to see a program that is trying to bring attention to this problem.

I'm sure that there are a number of good therapies for PTSD and the ones you had on your program do have some merit. I do have to mention, though, that I got the feeling that somehow these things would enable them to be cured or once done wouldn't have to continue with therapy. That is incorrect. If I've misconstued your intent then I apologize.

I've been in both individual and group therapy for some time and it's helped me a great deal. The Veterans Administration provides that for all vets regardless of their situations. It's helped me to regain a great deal of my life. But PTSD is a condition that combat vets have for life and to alood to anything else would be misleading.

The rewiring of our brains actually starts in boot camp where we're trained to be soldiers. It's the reason that we will run towards gun fire when any other sensible person would run in the opposite direction. But it works both ways; the brain can be rewired after PTSD so that the effect of it are less pronounced and the vet is able to regain a somewhat normal life.

I would encourage any vet that feels that they have any symtoms of PTSD to contact their local VA and get treatment. As you've shown not just the vets are affected but their families as well.

Thank you for bringing attention to a condition that is affecting a large number of returning veterans and their families. My best wishes to you and yours and to all the vets that have served our country.

Spunkyguy USMC TET'68
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