Health & Wellness

PTSD Can Happen to Anyone

By on 02/20/2015

Many of us have seen American Sniper, the Oscar nominated film starring Bradley Cooper. The film highlights the gripping drama and danger faced by servicemen in Iraq and the consequences of exposure to those life and death experiences.

Dr. Sarah Noble, a psychiatrist with the Outpatient Psychiatry Department at Einstein Healthcare Network, offers the following insight about the film, and the fact that people can have PTSD without having faced military combat:

Navy Seal Chris Kyle, as played by Bradley Cooper, comes home from his four tours in Iraq without any physical wounds. His mind, however, has been shaken and he can’t stop thinking about the men he “couldn’t save.” He has many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including hypervigilence, exhibited when he startles every time he hears a loud noise.

Each time Chris returns home from a tour, he appears withdrawn and detached emotionally and this gets worse as each tour ends. He attempts to decrease his symptoms by avoiding leaving his house and by drinking, which are both common methods of self-medicating. Thankfully for Chris Kyle and his family, he eventually got help and was able to decrease his symptoms and become much more functional.


According to Dr. Noble, you don’t have to go to war to get PTSD. In fact, the majority of people diagnosed with PTSD were traumatized by things that happened in everyday life. PTSD can be caused by a single incident like a car accident or a very bad illness like cancer or a heart attack. Or PTSD can be triggered by living under stressful conditions like an abusive relationship or an unsafe neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what causes PTSD, the symptoms are similar. People with PTSD are easily startled, they tend to be triggered by memories of the trauma so they avoid it with drugs and alcohol, they often have nightmares, and their moods are very sad and irritable.


Treatment is available for PTSD including medication and therapy. It’s helpful to have support from friends and family who educate themselves about PTSD so they can create a safe and calm atmosphere. Many people with PTSD find that becoming engaged in outreach to others helps them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and brings meaning back into their lives. But the first step is recognizing that you may be struggling.


You can complete a questionnaire at Healthy Place – America’s Mental Health Channel to see if you screen positive for PTSD.


Call the Outpatient Psychiatry Department at Einstein Healthcare Network at 215-456-9850 to schedule an appointment to be evaluated by one of our therapists or doctors.

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Review Date: October 29, 2016
Reviewed By: Andrew Overman, PT, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS
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