PTSD + Women

Though most of our earliest understanding of PTSD came from studies of men returning from combat, studies suggest women experience PTSD at two to three times the rate men do. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD for women is 10% to 12%, compared to 5% to 6% for men.

This disparity is because women and men experience different types of trauma at various points in their lives. For example, traumatic events such as sexual assault and intimate partner abuse disproportionately impact women. 

PTSD Symptoms in Women

Leading PTSD characteristics include intrusive thoughts, disrupted sleep, avoidance, anxiety and difficulties with concentration and memory. While anyone with PTSD can experience these disruptive issues, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found women with PTSD may be more likely than men to:

  • Startle easily
  • Feel numb or disconnected
  • Avoid reminders of their trauma
  • Experience depression, guilt and shame

The HHS study also notes women tend to live with their PTSD symptoms for up to four years before seeking diagnosis and treatment.

Trauma vs. PTSD

Though they have similar symptoms and may seem interchangeable, PTSD and trauma are different. While trauma is an emotional response, PTSD is the lingering mental health condition that results from the stressors of one-time or ongoing trauma.

Some of trauma’s after effects are immediate, while others may take months or years to emerge. Women will typically relive the event through vivid dreams and flashbacks. They will go out of their way to avoid reminders and triggers, and may experience erratic mood swings.

What Causes PTSD in Women?

Not everyone develops PTSD, though anyone can. Also, you don’t need firsthand experience with a dangerous or frightening event to be at risk of PTSD. Any dangerous, life-threatening or intensely scary situation can increase your risk of PTSD.

Common PTSD triggering events women in our care have experienced include: 

  • A loved one’s severe illness or death
  • Abuse – including physical, sexual, emotional and financial
  • Surviving or witnessing violence such as a mugging, shooting, physical abuse or rape
  • Living through a natural disaster like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire or flood
  • Combat exposure, either through military service or as a civilian
  • Being in a vehicle crash or accident

Women's PTSD Treatment

Though traumatic events can lead to devastating symptoms, it’s possible for you to work through your past and emerge on the other side. Unaddressed PTSD can significantly worsen without therapy, and it rarely goes away on its own. That’s why trauma-informed treatment is so essential.

Rising Roads Recovery offers evidence-based therapies for trauma and related mental health disorders. Over the years, our clinicians have identified the most successful treatments for trauma-related conditions, and we provide them in a supportive environment that allows our clients to overcome their experiences at their preferred pace. To learn more, reach out today.

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