Women in the Military and PTSD

Women in the Military and PTSDWomen in the military may be at a greater risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to exposure to combat and possible sexual assault.

Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

While men and women with PTSD experience many of the same symptoms, some symptoms are more common among women. Around 10 percent of women develop the disorder after trauma, compared to 4 percent of men, according to a 2007 report by the National Center for PTSD.

The most recognized symptoms of PTSD are clustered around three main categories, according to the PTSD Alliance Resource Center. Major symptoms of the disorder include the following:

  • Re-living the event—This can include a sudden feeling that the traumatic event is happening again along, with emotional or physical reactions such as panic.
  • Avoiding memories of the event—Sufferers may isolate themselves from others and feel emotionally numb. They also may avoid anything associated with the trauma.
  • Being hyper-vigilant—This condition can include symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and anger as well as feeling always on guard for danger.

When women develop PTSD, they are more likely than men to feel anxious or jumpy, feel less connected to their emotions and avoid reminders of the trauma. They also are more likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder than men, while men are more likely to have problems with drugs or alcohol.

Women During Combat

While men are more likely to experience combat, an increasing number of women are exposed to wartime conditions. Around 15 percent of U.S. military women experienced combat in Iraq, according to 2007 statistics from the National Center for PTSD.

Military women also are at greater risk for sexual assault than men. Sexual assault results in serious trauma that often leads to PTSD. While not everyone develops PTSD after trauma, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely to occur. Women who have a history of the following may develop PTSD, according to the National Center:

  • History of mental illness such as depression or anxiety
  • Experience of severe or life-threatening trauma
  • Past sexual assault
  • Past severe injury
  • Severe reaction from past event
  • Experience of several stressful events
  • Lack of strong social support

Need Help Finding Treatment for PTSD?

PTSD is a serious condition that often isolates a person and destroys quality of life. Don’t suffer alone. If you or a loved one suffers with PTSD, call our toll-free helpline today to find treatment. Our admissions coordinators are available to answer questions seven days a week, 24 hours a day and to give family members, friends and individuals the necessary information to get well. Reach out today.