It’s no secret that service members returning from combat often demonstrate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Military PTSD statistics are alarming — the rate of PTSD in veterans is about 1 in 3, according to the Lone Survivors Foundation. Because women are over twice as likely to develop PTSD than men — and there are more women fighting on the front lines than ever before — understanding the risks and symptoms is essential, especially for women veterans and their family members.
PTSD in Women vs. Men
Women experience PTSD somewhat differently than men, according to Military.com. Although men are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs to avoid the pain associated with traumatic experiences, women are more likely to have difficulty feeling emotions. “Jumpy” behavior, avoiding uncomfortable reminders, and depression and anxiety are also more common in women.
Women are more likely than men to experience PTSD at least in part because they are more likely to be exposed to sexual assault or harassment. Sexual assault is one of the most common traumas to cause PTSD as well. Women typically blame themselves when a trauma occurs.
Although not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD, certain events or conditions make it more likely. Those who have a past history of a mental health disorder, who experience a life-threatening event or who lack adequate social support are especially at risk.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
The signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
- Changes in mood. Individuals with PTSD may experience an inability to feel pleasure, suffer through panic attacks or demonstrate a persistent attitude of guilt or hopelessness. Anger, loneliness, disinterest, nervousness or general distress are also very common.
- Behavior Changes. Aggressive, hostile or self-destructive behavior is a warning sign of PTSD. Pay close attention if your loved one isolates themselves, is often agitated or self-harms.
- Psychological Changes. These symptoms can be profound and may include flashbacks, hallucinations, intense fear, mistrust, or severe anxiety or depression.
- Sleep. Individuals with PTSD may suffer nightmares, terrors or insomnia. Sleep deprivation is another common problem.
- Substance abuse. Although men are more likely than women to abuse alcohol or drugs to self-treat uncomfortable PTSD symptoms, addiction can happen to anyone.
Addiction and PTSD
Individuals with PTSD and addiction turn to alcohol and/or drugs for the falsely relaxed and happy feelings substances provide. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes the original mental health symptoms worse. For example, a person who drinks too much might experience severe sleep disruptions, which can worsen depression. By working through unresolved fear and anger related to the traumatic event — and getting treatment for addiction — a person can heal the trauma-induced pain and reduce the urge to use.
Get Help From 12 Keys Rehab
If you or someone you know is a veteran who abuses alcohol and/or drugs to relieve deep-seated stress related to military service, our holistic rehabilitation program can help. Our compassionate, experienced counselors and therapists are qualified to treat PTSD and addiction.
If you or someone you love shows signs of PTSD and addiction, contact us today.