Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. While PTSD can affect anyone, research suggests that women may experience the disorder differently than men. In this blog, we will explore PTSD in women, how they may cope with trauma differently than men, and what steps can be taken to seek help.
PTSD in Women:
Women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD at some point in their lives. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD is about 10–12% in women and 5–6% in men. Women are more likely to experience trauma such as sexual assault, domestic violence, or childhood abuse, which can increase their risk of developing PTSD. Additionally, women may be more likely to seek help for mental health concerns, which can make it easier to manage PTSD symptoms.
Research shows that women with PTSD may be more likely than men with PTSD to:
- Be easily startled
- Have more trouble feeling emotions or feel numb
- Avoid things that remind them of the trauma
- Feel depressed and anxious
Women usually have PTSD symptoms much longer than men (on average, 4 years versus 1 year) before diagnosis and treatment. Women with PTSD are less likely than men to have problems with alcohol or drugs after the trauma. Both women and men who have PTSD may also develop physical health problems.
Different Coping Mechanisms:
Women may cope with trauma differently than men, which can lead to different coping mechanisms. Some of these coping mechanisms include:
- Social Support: Women may seek out social support after trauma (more than men), which can provide a sense of connection and validation. Support from friends, family, or mental health professionals can help women manage PTSD symptoms. Lack of social support is the most consistent predictor of negative outcome of trauma.(Olff, 2017).
- Self-Blame: Women may be more likely to blame themselves for the trauma, which can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. Research has shown that women tend to have more negative cognitions, particularly regarding themselves and the world than males (Olff, 2017). It is essential to recognize that the trauma was not their fault and seek help to manage these feelings.
- Avoidance: Women experience higher levels of PTSD Re-experiencing, and Anxious Arousal factors compared to males (Charak 2014). This may lead to avoiding places or people that remind them of the trauma, which can make it challenging to move forward from the traumatic event.
PTSD is a treatable condition, and seeking help is an essential step in managing symptoms. Treatment options for PTSD include therapy, medication, and support groups. The Centre for Clinical Psychology in Melbourne is a resource for women who are seeking help for PTSD. Their team of mental health professionals can provide evidence-based treatment and support for individuals experiencing PTSD. You can book an appointment by calling 03 9077 0122 or visiting https://ccp.net.au/booking/. Take the first step towards managing PTSD symptoms and improving your mental health today.
Breslau N. (2001). Outcomes of posttraumatic stress disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 62 Suppl 17, 55–59.
Charak, R., Armour, C., Elklit, A., Angmo, D., Elhai, J. D., & Koot, H. M. (2014). Factor structure of PTSD, and relation with gender in trauma survivors from India. European journal of psychotraumatology, 5, 25547. https://doi.org/10.3402/ejpt.v5.25547
Hourani, L., Williams, J., Bray, R., & Kandel, D. (2015). Gender differences in the expression of PTSD symptoms among active duty military personnel. Journal of anxiety disorders, 29, 101–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.11.007
Olff M. (2017). Sex and gender differences in post-traumatic stress disorder: an update. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 8(sup4), 1351204. https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2017.1351204