How Common Is PTSD in Women?

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Dr. Laura Tanzini

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event. Symptoms can include anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. Another common symptom is an inability to control thinking about the traumatic event. PTSD is commonly associated with men who have experienced combat. According to VeteranAid.org, men and women in the military seek treatment at a similar rate. While active duty military and veterans do experience PTSD, so do civilians. Women are especially prone to suffering from this condition. Let’s look at some of the facts about women and PTSD.

How Many Women Have PTSD?

In the United States, approximately 24 million people have PTSD. Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from PTSD, with 1 in 10 developing symptoms. People are often surprised to find out women develop PTSD in higher numbers than men. That’s likely because more research emphasis has been placed on male combat veterans. With the surge in reports of women and sexual trauma, it helps to look specifically at how PTSD affects women.

Women and Trauma

While both men and women experience trauma, they deal with different kinds of trauma. Men tend to experience trauma due to combat, natural disasters, and accidents. Women, on the other hand, face trauma related to sexual abuse and assault, and domestic violence. Of course, female members of the military also experience combat trauma. Unlike combat trauma, women are often exposed to sexual trauma at a young age. If sexual trauma happens when the brain is still growing, the impact can last for years.

PTSD Symptoms in Women

Mental health professionals look at a variety of symptoms to determine whether a woman has PTSD. While many women and men experience the same symptoms, some are intrusive, such as flashbacks to the traumatic event, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. A person may react to trauma by feeling anxious, angry outbursts, and overly sensitive to potential danger. The inability to sleep is also a common symptom. Other symptoms include feeling emotionally numb or detached from other people. It’s not unusual for women who seek help from PTSD treatment facilities to talk about not having an interest in things they’ve previously enjoyed.

Women Don’t Want to Talk About It

Not wanting to talk about a traumatic event isn’t unusual. Both men and women use avoidance as a coping mechanism after trauma. For women, refusing to discuss a traumatic event is often a result of feelings of shame. Women also avoid discussing the event to help them avoid thinking about it. Constant reminders of trauma are unwelcome, so it’s logical to avoid talking about it. Most women will also alter their activities and behaviors to avoid anything that reminds them of the traumatic event. Getting help at a PTSD treatments center usually includes talking with a counselor and perhaps even other survivors. One type of therapy used to treat PTSD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a talking therapy that works on the premise that talking about a traumatic event can help you clarify what happened and how it affects you.

Whether you’ve experienced sexual trauma or another frightening life event, you may be having symptoms of PTSD. The friendly and supportive staff at Kinder in the Keys is here to help. Contact us at 800-KIK-4046 (800-545-4046) to talk about your options today.

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Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.