Girls, Injury, and PTSD

Injury is common in women; five out of ten girls experience a traumatic event. Girls tend to experience traumas that are different than guys. While both women and men report the same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are somewhat more normal for girls or guys.


Most early information on trauma and PTSD came from studies of male Veterans, mostly Vietnam Veterans. Researchers began to examine the effects of sexual assault and found that women's reactions were similar to male combat Veterans. Women's experiences of injury can also cause PTSD. This finding led to more research on women's exposure to trauma and PTSD.

Danger of childhood trauma experiencing trauma

Findings from a sizable national mental health study demonstrate that a bit more than half of all women will experience a minumum of one traumatic event in their life. Women are somewhat not as likely to experience trauma than men. The most frequent trauma for women is child sexual abuse or sexual assault. About one in three girls will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime. Speeds of sexual assault are higher for women than guys. Girls are also more prone to be neglected or mistreated in childhood, to experience domestic violence, or to have a loved one suddenly die.

What occurs after injury

After an injury, some women start drinking or using medications, may feel depressed, or develop PTSD. Girls are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men (10% for women and 4% for men).

Girls are more prone to experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault is more inclined to cause PTSD than a number of other occasions.

Girls might be more likely to blame themselves for trauma experiences than men.

Why are some girls at higher risk for PTSD?

Not all girls who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Women are more prone to develop PTSD if they:

Have a past mental health issue (for example depression or anxiety)

Experienced an extremely severe or life threatening trauma

Were assaulted

Were injured during the event

Had a severe response at that time of the occasion

Experienced other stressful occasions afterwards

Do not have good social support

What PTSD is like for girls

Some PTSD symptoms are more prevalent in women than guys. Women are more prone to have more trouble feeling emotions to be jumpy, and to prevent things that remind them of the trauma than guys. Guys are really more prone to have trouble controlling their anger then girls and to feel angry. Girls with PTSD are prone to feel anxious and depressed, while men with PTSD are prone to have issues with substances or alcohol.

There are good treatments for PTSD. However, not everyone who experiences a trauma seeks treatment. Women might be more likely than men to seek help after a disturbing event. At least one study found that women react to treatment as good as or better than men. This may be because women are generally more comfortable talking about private things with others than guys and sharing feelings.

Girls in the military

Girls in the military are at high risk for exposure to traumatic events, especially during times of war. Currently, about 15% of all military personnel in Iraq are women. Although men are more likely to experience battle, an increasing variety of women are being subjected to combat. Future studies are needed to better understand the effects of women's exposure to both fight and sexual assault.