Ask Dr. Tim: I am a 48-year-old Veteran…

Ask Dr. Tim: I am a 48-year-old Veteran…


I am a 48-year-old Veteran out of the Middle East conflict. Yes I saw a lot of conflict; yes I had friends shot and killed; yes I was wounded…but for the likes of me I can’t figure out what that has to do with my “over the top” anger when someone tailgates me. After all, I was never “blown-up”.

I have certainly been briefed about PTSD and I don’t think that is my problem. I don’t find the need to carry a weapon. I don’t drink excessively or do drugs. My dad who returned from Viet Nam would walk the perimeter of our property every night. But I don’t do that either. Oh, there is just one other thing. When I am at the Chiropractor I get really nervous when he touches me anywhere from behind. So what’s up?



Dear Wes,

This sounds quite uncomfortable. If you lived in an area where no one ever tailgates, it may not be so bad…but.

I am quite glad to hear that you have been briefed about PTSD. My guess is that you have some buddies who do suffer from PTSD…even those who weren’t “blown-up”.

Now let’s be clear, most of us out there on the road don’t like someone tailgating us. It is irritating and dangerous. I know of a couple really smart people who simply pull over and let the tailgater pass. It doesn’t really take much more of our time and it could relieve a lot of stress. If your ego gets bruised in doing that, then there is more to discuss. Of course if you regularly drive on a busy freeway you can’t easily pull over all the time someone is right behind you. As concerning as it is to be uncomfortable being tailgated your apparent “over the top” reaction is of even greater concern to me.

Having said the above, I would like to draw your attention to that “other thing” you mentioned about being uncomfortable when touched from behind. That along with the anger outbursts while driving may point to some PTSD. The good news is that you can get relief from these uncomfortable symptoms and behaviors. The bad news is that the unwanted symptoms will likely not just go away on their own. This may be the time to reach out to someone trained in PTSD and get some professional help. If not, the symptoms can get even get worse.

I wish you peace.

Dr. Tim

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  1. Bill Cork:

    Definitely sounds like PTSD to me. You don’t know if you have it by getting briefed. Need to be diagnosed. I suggest the VA.