Response to an Un-educated Writer at The Daily Telegraph Writing About PTSD

I usually do not engage with people who post unverified information, or “fake news”, on my Facebook page.  I rarely comment on online articles that contain inaccurate information.  However, the article this morning that popped up in my RSS feed prompted me to get out my “poison pen” and educate the author on PTSD.

To be honest,  she made several inflammatory comments that elicited the “fight response” in me.

The title of the article is “Save Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for those who truly suffer from it.”  It was written by Kerry Parnell for The Daily Telegraph.  The piece appeared in a section called “RendezView – THE MEETING PLACE FOR NEWS-MAKING VIEWS.”

This is how she opened the article:

“YOU do not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because someone stole your sandwich. So please stop hijacking the term.”

We all go through traumatic events in our lifetimes; the death of a loved one, having an accident, losing a job and other catastrophes. But bad experiences do not mean you have PTSD, they just mean you have to fight to get over them.”

She continues to explain that PTSD is the “latest catchphrase of the snowflake generation,” You can read the rest of the article here:

Save Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for those who truly suffer from it

As a person diagnosed with C-PTSD and blogger on trauma issues, I felt it was my duty to educate Ms. Parnell on PTSD, stress disorders and anxiety disorders.  I also felt that it was necessary for her to know that was not helping her readers, “open up about psychological issues”  which she stated was, “really important.”

Here is my response:

I’m wondering how much research you did on PTSD before you wrote this article and what type of background you have in diagnosing mental illness?

I fully agree that having your sandwich stolen does not qualify as a traumatic event. However, if you were raised in a household where you were neglected, and you had to go hungry at times, having your sandwich stolen could trigger a PTSD response.

Not all people who have suffered a traumatic event will develop PTSD.  On the other hand, some people who have suffered the death of a loved one, having an accident, losing a job and other catastrophes,” may develop PTSD based on their risk and resilience factors.

According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), some factors that can contribute to the risk of PTSD are:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

The National Institute of Mental Health (February 2017). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,

Some “snowflakes”, or “featherweights” may suffer from a stress disorder and have not been diagnosed. Often, they may state that they have PTSD because it is a term they are familiar with and they have not been educated about the other types of Stress disorders: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.

The Healthline Editorial Team (July 21, 2016) What’s Your Stress Type?

Then there is a large group of people who suffer from an anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.  Where a healthy person is able to handle stress and bouts of anxiety, these people often need medication to function.  Their symptoms often get worse as they get older usually due to lack of support from friends and family.  The risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder are:

  • Shyness, or behavioral inhibition, in childhood
  • Being female
  • Having few economic resources
  • Being divorced or widowed
  • Exposure to stressful life events in childhood and adulthood
  • Anxiety disorders in close biological relatives
  • Parental history of mental disorders
  • Elevated afternoon cortisol levels in the saliva (specifically for social anxiety disorder)

The National Institute of Mental Health (March 2016), Anxiety Disorders,


So, before you pass judgment on, or diagnose the woman who was “sacked by her boss” and the man who “had a bad break up,” you could educate your readers on the different types of stress and anxiety that they may be experiencing that is not PTSD. Encourage them to seek medical help for an accurate diagnosis. This includes a full medical workup and history to determine if they may, in fact, have PTSD or if they are at risk of developing it.  Suggesting that they “fight through it,” will not make people more likely to “open up about psychological struggles, ” as you stated was, “really important.


It is not unusual for a writer to make controversial comments or write headlines that may invite a spirited conversation in the comments section.  They do this to increase their following.

Rather than agreeing with my comment or writing one of your own, send an email to letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph expressing your feelings about this writer, the harm of uneducated opinions to the mental health community, or any other aspect of this article that bothered you.

You can submit a letter to the editor of The Daily Telegraph here:




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