PTSD :: Post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed more in women

Even though men are more likely to experience a traumatic event, women are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s one of the conclusions of a new study appearing in the November issue of the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin.

“Men and women might react to traumas in very different ways,” explained the study author David Tolin, director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living, in Hartford, Conn. “The way the diagnosis is currently written may stack the deck for more symptom endorsement in women.”

But, he added, “The diagnosis of PTSD is a work in progress. It has changed with each edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and that’s a good thing. It means we’re actively thinking about it and working on it.”

Tolin and his colleague, Edna Foa, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, reviewed 25 years of studies done on PTSD to see if there were any significant gender differences.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a term for certain psychological consequences of exposure to, or confrontation with, stressful experiences that the person experiences as highly traumatic. [1] The experience must involve actual or threatened death, serious physical injury, or a threat to physical and/or psychological integrity. It is occasionally called post-traumatic stress reaction to emphasize that it is a routine result of traumatic experience rather than a manifestation of a pre-existing psychological weakness on the part of the patient.

It is possible for individuals to experience traumatic stress without manifesting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Symptoms of PTSD can include the following: nightmares, flashbacks, emotional detachment or numbing of feelings (emotional self-mortification or dissociation), insomnia, avoidance of reminders and extreme distress when exposed to the reminders (“triggers”), irritability, hypervigilance, memory loss, and excessive startle response, clinical depression and anxiety, loss of appetite.

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