Excessive Rage

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I understand the fact that my A.D.D. might play a role in my issues with rage, but not to the extent I have. I have had this problem with it for quite sometime; but has gotten worse since the end of 2005 beginning of 2006. I think I can attribute some of it to PTSD since I spent all of 2005 in Kuwait/Iraq. I usally end up raging over something trivial or stupid. My wife and I lost a child to miscarriage this last Dec. 24th and the almost wounded animal sobbing noises she was making made me so angry and just full of rage. I knew that there was no reason for me to feel that way I was hurt and just as sad over the loss of our child(would have been our first)and was mourning as well, but those sounds she was making just set me off. I express my rage only rarely and it usually ends up with me destroying or breaking something of mine, not my wife’s or something that belongs to us. I don’t yell, scream, or become violent because I know the reason I rage makes no sense at all, I just rage inside my head. It’s like I’m yelling and screaming and gnashing my teeth in my mind, and I have such violent thoughts when I do these things it scares me. The V.A. prescribed me Prozac but after about a month on that I quit taking it cause I became zombie like. I was still raging inside but I just didn’t care anymore. I also am short with my wife when I have an episode, I don’t want to hurt her feelings, sometimes it(my speech) comes out snippy or short and I don’t mean it to be. I don’t want this to escalate, I’ve used deep breathing techniques, counting, going for a walk alone, and relaxation techniques it just seems that nothing seems to work. I don’t want to become physically or verbally abusive. I just want to be normal.

A: I’m so very glad you wrote. The anniversary of a loss is an especially hard time. My condolences to you and your wife.
Without more information, I can’t confirm a diagnosis of PTSD but it does seem likely. Grief always triggers memories of other griefs. Your wife’s grieving and your own mourning may well have tapped into emotions that your’ve been working hard to control since leaving Iraq. I hope you understand that you are not alone in this and that there is no shame in it. The other possibility I’d want to check out is whether you suffered any head injury. Even when someone appears to be fully recovered, head injuries can have recurring effects that include anger outbursts. Please start with a visit to your physician to make sure this isn’t the case for you.

Psychiatric medication will only help if you work with your doctor. That means going back regularly to report your response to the medication and to be willing to try different medication when you don’t like a particular drug’s side effects. Equally important – and please consider this – you need to get yourself into regular therapy to deal with your war experiences and to work out the rage. You didn’t mention which branch of the service you were in. Each has its own resource and referral organization that was created to help our soldiers and their families. Please use this resource. Counselors will help you locate an experienced therapist who can provide you – and your wife – with the help you need.

Army: Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline: 800-984-8523
Marines: Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Call Center: 877-487-6299
Navy and Coast Guard: Safe Harbor: 877-746-8563

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Excessive Rage. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/24/excessive-rage/