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5 Most Common Signs of PTSD in Women

PTSD treatment for women or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric illness which results from experiencing traumatic or life-threatening happenings such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, serious accidents, sexual abuse, physical or sexual assault, or even sudden death of a loved one.  Not everyone who experienced any traumatic incidents can develop PTSD.  Many individuals who experienced such horrible events can return to their original functioning state after a significant period has passed.  

Unfortunately, there are those whose stress reactions continue to persist after a long time and even get much worse.  These individuals are most likely suffering from PTSD and can benefit from inpatient rehab especially if dealing with substance abuse issues.

PTSD with substance abuse issues is considered a dual diagnosis and is treatment expenses are usually covered by PPO insurance or HMO insurance providers.


The prevalence of PTSD varies among genders.  The National Comorbidity Survey Replication carried out in 2001 and 2003 reveal that lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adult women (9.7%) is higher by about 200% than men (3.6%).  PTSD women are usually caused by sexual assault, child abuse (either physical, sexual, or both), and sudden loss of a loved one.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD for Women

Apart from prevalencethere is also a slight difference in symptoms of PTSD in women.  Here are five of the most common signs of PTSD for women:

1. Reliving Symptoms

Symptoms under this category include having “flashbacks”, wherein the memories are so real that the patient feels that the event is actually happening once again. Signs of “flashbacks” may include a high level of fear, helplessness, and other feelings that they felt when the traumatic event happened.  Reliving symptoms can manifest suddenly without warning or it can be triggered by a reminder that can be related to the event such as sexual abuse news report on television (for a woman who has been sexually assaulted).

2. Avoiding and Numbing Symptoms

Women who have PTSD may completely avoid everything that can remind them of the horrific event.  They will avoid all possible sensory reminders that can trigger the memories of the traumatic experience such as watching television that depict a similar scene or going to the place where it happened.  Another form of avoidance is carrying out different activities that will distract and prevent them from thinking about the traumatic experience.

Numbing signs, on the other hand, include isolation, lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy, forgetfulness, and inability to speak.

3. High Level of Emotional Arousal

Women who are suffering from PTSD are always on alert.  The signs of a high level of emotional arousal include an inability to sleep, irritability, uncontrolled temper, and difficulty concentrating, among others.

4. Depression

Women with PTSD often suffer with depression as shown by persistent feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.

5. Social Anxiety

This symptom can cause patients to experience panic attacks when faced with social situations.  Interacting and being around people can become a serious challenge for people with PTSD.

The first three symptoms should be present in an individual before the illness can be diagnosed as PTSD.  The last two, however, are common co-occurring symptoms of PTSD in women.  While the various signs listed above are usually shown immediately after the traumatic event, they are not diagnosed as PTSD unless they are persistently present for at least a month and they are negatively interfering with the person’s home, work, or social life.

Treatment for PTSD for Women

There are PTSD treatment centers for women that focus on providing women-specific treatment programs either inpatient or IOP.  The causes, symptoms, and other factors concerning PTSD are different between men and women which mean that there is no one-treatment-for-all that can fully assist in the recovery process.

Many stories have been recorded by various PTSD treatment centers for women with regard to the positive response of women to treatment.  This is supported by at least one study that reveals how women respond well or better to treatment compared with men.  At the end of the day, immediate diagnosis and intervention can greatly help PTSD patients.

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