Does Thomas Shelby have anxiety? (+5 Symptoms)

The current blogpost will be answering if Thomas Shelby has anxiety. We will also be checking out the different symptoms of mental illness that Thomas Shelby depicts in the show, Peaky Blinders.

Does Thomas Shelby have anxiety?

Yes, Thomas Shelby has anxiety. Thomas Shelby experiences anxiety mainly because of his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his war-time. In post-World War 1, PTSD was also called ‘Shell-shock’ and not much research was done about it.

Symptoms of Thomas Shelby’s anxiety/PTSD

Thomas Shelby demonstrates many signs and symptoms of his PTSD, which was primarily caused by his experience in the war. The various symptoms of PTSD as demonstrated by Thomas Shelby in the show, Peaky Blinders, are:

Change in personality after the trauma

The main symptom of the mental health issues that Thomas Shelby suffers from is that he undergoes a severe change in personality once he has returned from the war. Before the war, Shelby was known as a highly positive individual before the PTSD took a toll on him.

This is not just experienced by Thomas Shelby, but even Arthur Shelby Jr. and even Danny Whizz-Bang. The traumatic experiences in the war and the horrors of it keep recurring as strong memories for the characters that therefore undergo a transformation in their personality.

For Thomas Shelby, the main particular horror from the war was when he and Freddie Thorne were attacked by their enemies in the tunnels and strangled. Shelby keeps going back to this memory out of all since this was particularly horrific in nature.

Self-medication with drugs

In post-World War I, there was no psychotherapy or proper treatment available for the soldiers returning home with Shell-shock or PTSD. And therefore, the soldiers were left to their own devices to cope with their anxiety symptoms.

Thomas Shelby and his friend, Danny Whizz-Bang can be seen to cope with the symptoms of PTSD through the use of brown opium which was pretty common in that era. This is shown in the very first episode of Peaky Blinders in which Shelby uses a clay pipe to smoke the opium.

Other than brown opium, Thomas Shelby also uses alcohol to self-medicate to combat his PTSD. He is shown to be sober for a few years in the first couple of seasons but then seems to have a drinking relapse.

Hallucinations of war-time

Thomas Shelby also has very realistic hallucinations of his experiences in war-time. More specifically, he hallucinates about the tunnel where he and Freddie Thorne were attacked and beaten.

He often sees the wall of the tunnel in front of him. Apart from the wall, Thomas also hallucinates about his dead wife and other people who are close to him. However, in later episodes, another reason for the hallucination, in the form of a brain tumor, is revealed.

Seizures in later episodes

Thomas Shelby also has seizures as shown in later episodes. This can also be caused by the tumor but is accelerated because of his PTSD. It also does not help that he is self-medicating too much with the help of opium and alcohol.

Suicidal thoughts

Thomas Shelby also experiences many suicidal thoughts which are also symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the finale of the show, Shelby is shown to go ahead with the suicide, prodded on by hallucinations of his dead wife.

Peaky Blinder Characters with Anxiety

Just like Thomas Shelby, other characters in Peaky Blinders also suffer from anxiety and PTSD. The other characters from Peaky Blinders who are suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues have been listed below.

  • Arthur Shelby Jr. and PTSD
  • Danny Whizz-Bang and PTSD, anger and psychosis
  • Freddie Thorne and PTSD


The current blogpost has answered if Thomas Shelby has anxiety. We have also checked out the different symptoms of mental illness that Thomas Shelby depicts in the show, Peaky Blinders.

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