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What are the Common Signs of PTSD in Women?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Women who experience post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, may be nervous or depressed. PTSD in women can be very similar to the condition in men, resulting in strong feelings of anger or even violence. In women, however, it is somewhat more likely to be expressed as fear or anxiety.

Flashbacks are a common sign of PTSD in women. Such flashbacks are induced by sensory triggers related to the trauma that caused the PTSD, such as the voice of a particular person or a specific scent. Through these flashbacks to traumatic events, patients feel as if they are experiencing these painful events over again in their minds.

Because flashbacks can be unexpectedly triggered in various environments, PTSD in women also usually includes some degree of reclusive behavior. Patients often exhibit a general reluctance to interact with others and decline many social activities in order to stave off possible flashbacks. In some cases, PTSD may be so severe that patients refuse to leave their homes.

Hallucinations or delusions can similarly occur in PTSD cases. These instances often cause the victim to behave in uncharacteristic ways. Feelings of paranoia, such as believing that they are being spied upon, or believing that they are experiencing some sort of mind control, can also occur. Psychotic symptoms such as these may occur in as many as half of the patients who experience PTSD.

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In addition to the experiences caused by PTSD in women, the condition can also result in a lack of emotion. Patients may stop responding to emotional stimuli, or even appear apathetic. Some victims may have trouble speaking, or, in severe cases, cease speaking altogether.

PTSD in women is much more common than PTSD in men; in fact, women have double the risk of developing the condition. A stigma can develop against women who exhibit PTSD symptoms. While each victim is different, some women respond to the condition by exhibiting risky behavior. Many women turn to illegal drugs, unprotected sex with strangers, or alcohol to cope with PTSD. A trained therapist can often help women cope with their illness in a healthier, less dangerous manner.

Treating PTSD in women is typically accomplished through behavioral therapy with a professional psychiatrist. Prescription medication may also be required, depending upon the patient's symptoms. A sleep aid may be prescribed, for example, if the patient has frequent nightmares or insomnia. Coping techniques, such as breathing exercises, are also often incorporated.

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