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majorrich's avatar

First person shooter game triggered a panic attack. Normal?

Asked by majorrich (12911 points ) August 4th, 2014

My son bought me a video game player for Father’s Day. Over the weekend we tried to play a co op game of Call of Duty that included a scenario placed in an area I was deployed to. Later that evening I had nightmares and the familiar symptoms of PTSD I figured I had left behind. I am still in a hyper vigilant state several days later. Have any of you guys experienced this? I am actively applying the measures the VA taught me and do not want to visit with them any more. (You vets will understand that)

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6 Answers

hominid's avatar

PTSD is no joke. I can imagine these hyper realistic games having the effect it has had on you. I am not a gamer, and I’m not a veteran, but many years ago I tried playing those first-person shooter games. I didn’t like the way I felt while playing it. A bit sweaty. I wasn’t breathing right.

My father is a Vietnam vet who had seen significant battle (purple heart and all that). When I was young and my parents were still together, he was unable to watch tv because any portrayal of war or gunshots would trigger full-blown panic attacks. He also was unable to hunt for about 20 years after the war.

janbb's avatar

It sure makes sense that a PTSD sufferer would have a panic attack when playing that.

Symbeline's avatar

With some of those games, they actually get advice and opinions from war veterans in order to create a semblance of realism. Don’t know about CoD specifically, but I know other titles where veterans gave pointers to the game developers.
I’m guessing that if PTSD can be triggered by movies, the sound of thunder or going hunting, an FPS could do it as well. Being that it has a war setting, I don’t find it hard to believe that it can recall the experiences one lived as a soldier, or bring nightmares and such.
A vet probably needs very little trigering when it comes to what he saw and lived during a war, so I would say that a game based on war could easily do it, especially with how real games look today.
My guess anyway, as I know very little of PTSD.

ucme's avatar

I can totally believe that could happen, the newb campers must shit bricks everytime they cower in a corner of a map, willing the free for all match to finish.
Seriously though, a scenario filled with tension I can well understand acting as a trigger for brutal memories you experienced in the past. It being a game that reignited those dormant feelings should in no way trivialise the situation.

JLeslie's avatar

Seems logical to me. I have what I consider to be mild PTSD from experiences I have had with doctors, and a bad interaction can give me nightmares for weeks. Just a conversation about bad medical care can significantly work me up, and leave me agitated for hours. I would not even compare it to what some soldiers go through.

filmfann's avatar

That is completely understandable.
I had to stop playing a game where I had to defuse bombs (Blown Away) because it made me so tense. It was just like being at work.

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