Why Women Have Higher Rates of PTSD

Did you know that women have double the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as men? The lifetime prevalence of PTSD is 10-12% in women and 5-6% in men. What’s more, PTSD tends to last longer in women – 4 years versus one. 

Interestingly, women have been found to experience fewer traumas than men (by a third) and yet their risk of PTSD is higher. This may have to do with the type of trauma, note experts. For example, men who experience combat trauma, accidents, natural disasters and disasters caused by humans are more likely to experience PTSD. For women, sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault are most often to blame. Roughly one out of every 6 women has experienced attempted or completed sexual assault or rape in her lifetime and these victims are more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than nonsexual trauma survivors.
“Sexual traumas are prevalent and particularly toxic to mental health,” Melanie Greenberg PhD, wrote in an article on Psychology Today. “Sexual abuse typically begins at a young age, when the brain is still growing, leading to a lasting impact on emotion regulation and fear response.”
Do You Know the Signs of PTSD?
Dr. Greenberg said that among survivors of sexual trauma, she often sees high levels of fear and vigilance, shame, and self-blame. Other symptoms, which most often interfere with daily living, can include: 
  • Nightmares, flashbacks an frightening thoughts.
  • Avoiding and shutting out thoughts and feelings related to the trauma.
  • Angry outbursts, feeling “on edge,” being hyper-vigilant for threat or trouble sleeping.
  • Feeling excessive guilt, blaming yourself unreasonably, having difficulty remembering aspects of the event, seeing yourself or the world negatively.
PTSD and Addiction
About 80 percent of women seeking addiction treatment also have a trauma history, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And this number doesn’t include women who can’t or refuse to seek help for substance use disorders. Since trauma and addiction often coexist, we offer a dual-focused program to help women begin to restore their well-being and look ahead to lasting recovery. To learn more about our trauma treatment program, call today: 866-746-1558.
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