Women, Injury, and PTSD

Trauma is common in girls; five out of ten women experience a traumatic event. Girls often experience different injuries than men. While both men and women report the same symptoms of PTSD (hyperarousal, reexperiencing, avoidance, and numbing), some symptoms are more common for women or men.


Most early information on PTSD and trauma came from studies of male Veterans, mostly Vietnam Veterans. Women's experiences of trauma can also cause PTSD. This finding led to more research on women's exposure to trauma and PTSD.

Danger of experiencing trauma

Findings from a sizable national mental health childhood trauma study reveal that a little more than half of all women will experience a minumum of one traumatic event in their life. Women are marginally less likely to experience trauma than men. The most frequent injury for girls is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. About one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their own life. Rates of sexual assault are higher for women than men. Women are also more likely to be neglected or mistreated in childhood, to experience domestic violence, or to have a loved one suddenly expire.

What occurs after injury

After an injury, some girls might feel depressed, start drinking or using medications, or develop PTSD.

Girls are more than likely to experience sexual assault.

Sexual assault is more inclined to cause PTSD than many other events.

Girls may be more inclined to blame themselves for trauma experiences than guys.

Why are some girls at higher risk for PTSD?

Not all women who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Women are more than likely to develop PTSD if they:

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

Experienced a very critical or life-threatening injury

Were sexually assaulted

Were injured during the occasion

Had a serious response during the time of the occasion

Experienced other stressful events afterwards

Don't have good social support

What PTSD is like for women

Some PTSD symptoms are somewhat more common in girls than guys. Girls are more likely to have more trouble feeling emotions to be jumpy, and to prevent things that remind them of the injury than guys. Men are really more likely to have trouble controlling their anger then women and to feel angry. Women with PTSD are more prone to feel apprehensive and depressed, while guys with PTSD are prone to own problems with drugs or alcohol. Both girls and men who experience PTSD may develop physical health concerns.

There are excellent treatments for PTSD. Girls may be more likely than men to seek help after a disturbing event. A minumum of one study found that girls react to treatment as good as or better than men. This may be because women are usually more comfortable talking with others than men about personal things 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. An increasing variety of girls are being subjected to fight although men are more prone to experience combat. Future studies are needed to better comprehend the effects of women's exposure to both fight and sexual assault.