Differences Between Ptsd In Women And Men
While it is true that PTSD can happen to any individual, there are statistics that show a difference in its prevalence related to gender. Women are reported to have a likelihood of PTSD that is 23 times higher than men. Its present in 1012 percent of women and 56 percent of men.
Its difficult to confidently say what contributes to the gender differences in the rates of PTSD. There are a variety of factors that have been exhaustively researched and that need to be considered, including:
- Bodily response: Women and men have different chemical and biological responses to stressful events. Women are more likely to have a dysregulated hypothalamic/adrenal/pituitary axis response. The dysregulation of this hormonal pathway is often involved in the development of PTSD.
- Diagnosis criteria: Women may be diagnosed more often because of the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.
- Types of trauma: The most commonly reported trauma for women is sexual assault or child sexual abuse this type of experience is more likely to lead to PTSD.
- Amounts of traumatic exposure: Men experience more potentially traumatic experiences than women, but their reported PTEs are less commonly linked to PTSD.
PTSD symptoms often present differently according to gender. These differences are important to understand, especially as PTSD may be harder to recognize in men.
General PTSD symptoms are typically classified into four categories:
How Is It Diagnosed
The symptoms must be present for a long duration of time, beginning after a month of the event. Doctors/Physicians may diagnose any physical symptom and prescribe medication for those. Psychologists observe the individuals for the signs and background history of the individual. They hear about the event, and with the help of different assessments and interviews, they evaluate the individuals.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd
PTSD symptoms vary from person to person, but some signs are more widespread than others. Marmar tells Allure, “The most common symptoms are nightmares, flashbacks, and startle reactions. Nightmares mean you have vivid disturbing dreams which are recurrent. They can be like a movie, or they can even be weird dreams in which the event you witnessed gets morphed in certain ways, but theyre still traceable to the event itself.”
True flashbacks are pretty rare, says Marmar, and people tend to mislabel what they experience. In a true flashback, you feel you are actually transported to the event itself, and for a moment you believe your life is in danger. Startle reactions refer to a person being jumpy and on high alert in everyday life, even when completely safe.
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What Kinds Of Events Outside Of Military Combat Can Lead To Ptsd
Single events. Natural disasters, car accidents and/or a one-time sexual assault are just some examples, says Colleen Cira, PsyD. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder and executive director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health in Chicago.
Repeated experiences. PTSD can also result from experiences that are more chronic in nature, Cira says. Some traumas that happen over months or years, often during childhood, can result in whats called complex PTSD, or complex trauma. These experiences include physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Physical and emotional neglect may also lead to complex trauma. So can witnessing domestic violence.
PTSD can also be triggered by devastating experiences as an adult. Domestic violence or other toxic relationships can lead to PTSD. And for many individuals, systemic issues such as racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia can be a trigger for PTSD.
What makes trauma unique, though, is that everybody processes and responds to events differently. What might be processed in the brain as traumatic for one person is not for another, Mead says.
In fact, she notes that studies have shown that the same childhood trauma, such as a car accident or the death of a parent, can leave one sibling with a PTSD diagnosis while another sibling has limited long-term psychological impacts. Resilience, temperament and other personal characteristics play a role in whether someone processes an event as traumatic, Mead says.
What Is Ptsd Symptoms Causes Diagnosis And Treatment
Symptoms of PTSD can be triggered by anything that leads the person to feel threatened, whether its real or subjective danger. Triggers may include a noise, an aroma, or a song. Typically it tends to be emotionally related to a past issue, Russell-Chapin says.
Both the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association outline four symptom clusters of PTSD from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition , outlined below.
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What Does Ptsd Feel Like
PTSD feels different for everyone. This is partly because trauma is an individual experience. For example, a war veteran with PTSD may have different symptoms than someone who was physically assaulted.
PTSD also has lots of different symptoms 20 in total. You only need to have six of these symptoms to be diagnosed with PTSD. This means two people could be diagnosed with PTSD, but each have a completely different combination of symptoms.
Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not
It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.
Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop PTSD. Some examples are listed below. Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder.
Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:
- Living through dangerous events and traumas
- Getting hurt
- Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
- Having little or no social support after the event
- Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
- Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
Some factors that may promote recovery after trauma include:
- Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
- Finding a support group after a traumatic event
- Learning to feel good about ones own actions in the face of danger
- Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
- Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
Researchers are studying the importance of these and other risk and resilience factors, including genetics and neurobiology. With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and to prevent it.
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Finding A Therapist For Ptsd
When looking for a therapist, seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can ask your doctor or other trauma survivors for a referral, call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.
Beyond credentials and experience, its important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe. Trust your gut if a therapist doesnt feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel comfortable and understood.
What Are Reexperiencing Symptoms Of Ptsd
Cameron Ritchie says that reexperiencing symptoms can be a jolt for people with PTSD, forcing them to come face-to-face with memories of past trauma.
I have experience working with veterans and members of the military who often report experiencing nightmares and flashbacks to past trauma, she says.
Emrani explains that these symptoms can occur at any time because triggers are everywhere. You could be driving down a road of a past accident and flash back to that traumatic event. You might be watching a movie that depicts an abusive relationship that could force you to recall negative experiences that came from one you had. Simple words, physical markers, and even scents could all be triggers that cause you to think back to the trauma.
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Living With Someone With Ptsd
PTSD doesnt only affect the person who has it. Its effects can affect those around them.
The anger, fear, or other emotions that people with PTSD are often challenged with can strain even the strongest relationships.
Learning all you can about PTSD can help you be a better advocate and supporter for your loved one. Joining a support group for family members of people living with PTSD can give you access to helpful tips from people whove been or are currently in your shoes.
Try to make sure that your loved one is getting proper treatment which can include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
Also, try to recognize and accept that living with someone who has PTSD isnt easy. There are challenges. Reach out for caregiver support if you feel the need to do so. Therapy is available to help you work through your personal challenges like frustration and worry.
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She warns that similar symptoms like these might sometimes show themselves in people after any traumatic experience and might not necessarily be PTSD. This could involve depression or other mood disorders, which commonly coexist with PTSD.
If youve experienced a traumatic event, its normal to withdraw out of fear or confusion over what happened. These symptoms will often subside. But if symptoms persist, you may need to be evaluated for PTSD.
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Spotting The Signs Of Ptsd
When you experience a threat, whether its real or perceived, your body initiates a stress response. This response includes the unconscious feeling to fight, flee, freeze and/or eventually submit to the threat. This sequence of unconscious impulses is biologically correct, normal and predictable, Cira says. It means that your nervous system is doing exactly what its designed to do.
Yet when that stress response is unable to turn off, as in the case of PTSD, the effect on the mind, body and emotions is disastrous. You vacillate between experiencing hyperarousal, commonly experienced as intense anxiety, and hypo-arousal, commonly experienced as depression or sadness, Cira says.
In the hyperarousal state, you may feel moody, grouchy and hostile, and experience things such as sleep or appetite disturbances, agitation, mistrust and fear. Meanwhile, during the hypo-arousal state, you might feel numb, empty, hopeless, helpless and worthless. You may struggle to experience joy, love or playfulness, and you can have difficulty envisioning your future. If the trauma has been especially horrific, you may even have intrusive thoughts, memories or feelings about that event, Cira says.
What Can I Do To Help Myself
It is important to know that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment. Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk with your health care provider about treatment options, and follow your treatment plan.
- Engage in exercise, mindfulness, or other activities that help reduce stress.
- Try to maintain routines for meals, exercise, and sleep.
- Set realistic goals and do what you can as you are able.
- Spend time with trusted friends or relatives, and tell them about things that may trigger symptoms.
- Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Avoid use of alcohol or drugs.
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Information For Carers Friends And Relatives
If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.
How can I get support?
You can do the following.
- Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
- Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
- Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
- Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
- Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.
What is a carers assessment?
A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role.
To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.
How do I get support from my peers?
You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.
How can I support the person I care for?
You can do the following.
- Read information about PTSD.
- Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
- Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
- Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
- Help them to manage their finances.
You can find out more about:
Arousal And Reactivity Symptoms
- Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling irritable and having angry or aggressive outbursts
- Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior
Arousal symptoms are often presentthey can lead to feelings of stress and anger and may interfere with parts of daily life, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
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Diagnostic And Statistical Manual
PTSD was classified as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-IV, but has since been reclassified as a “trauma- and stressor-related disorder” in the DSM-5. The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD include four symptom clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition/mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.
Help For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder There Is Hope
Its important for you to know that there is hope. We are fortunate to live in an age when we know what trauma is, and we have a variety of trauma therapies available. Its just a matter of finding a good, caring experienced trauma therapist. That person can guide you through the trauma recovery process
For my entire career, Ive been helping clients to recover from the effects of trauma. Ive been fortunate to have helped many people reclaim the sense of calm confidence that is our birthright.
It can be scary, or embarrassing to consider even touching on traumatic experiences, a skilled and trauma informed therapist will be able to guide and support you through this process of resolving your trauma. If you would like to know more about my approach to Trauma and PTSD Therapy, please contact me or click on the link.
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The Importance Of Ptsd Treatment
Many people are unaware that untreated post-traumatic stress disorder can have a devastating effect for both those who have the condition and their loved ones. It not only affects relationships with your family, friends and others, it can trigger serious emotional problems and even cause health problems over time.
PTSD affects people of all ages. It can even impact the health of unborn babies when the mother is under constant stress.
Ptsd Treatment And Therapy
Treatment for PTSD can relieve symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma youve experienced. A doctor or therapist will encourage you to recall and process the emotions you felt during the original event in order to reduce the powerful hold the memory has on your life.
During treatment, youll also explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma, work through feelings of guilt and mistrust, learn how to cope with intrusive memories, and address the problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships.
The types of treatment available for PTSD include:
Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to feelings and situations that remind you of the trauma, and replacing distorted and irrational thoughts about the experience with a more balanced picture.
Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what youre going through and help you work through relationship problems together as a family.
Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety, although they do not treat the causes of PTSD.
EMDR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. These techniques work by unfreezing the brains information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.
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The Four Types Of Symptoms Of Ptsd
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health issue that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event, according to the National Institute of Mental Health . It is widely believed that PTSD is reserved for veterans who survived traumatic experiences during wartime, but PTSD can happen to anyone. Even those who did not directly experience a trauma, but had witnessed a life-threatening event may experience symptoms of this disorder.
Although each person may experience symptoms differently, there are four main types to be aware of:
Re-experiencing symptoms are those that make you feel as though you are reliving the event. Flashbacks, nightmares and bad memories are examples of re-experiencing symptoms. These symptoms, particularly flashbacks, can also have physical effects such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. According to the NIMH, Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
Avoiding certain places, people and situations that trigger bad memories is common when experiencing these symptoms. One may also avoid thinking about or discussing the event and may change their daily routine for this reason. For example, someone who was mugged while walking home from work may choose to avoid their usual route, or change their transportation method to driving.
Alternative And Complementary Psychotherapies
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine. Its characteristics are that it does not originate from evidence gathered using the scientific method. Over the last decade, alternative treatment has become increasingly common in treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often used selectively in clinical trials. While it is not yet accepted medical treatment, there are often studies being done to test its effectiveness. Usually, it is used as a last resort due to the failure of conventional treatment.
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