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Symptoms of PTSD in women can be similar to those in men, although there are typically some marked differences. Women are more likely to experience repeated flashbacks of the traumatic event, which almost always involves some sort of personal abuse. There may be a constant fear of the trauma occurring again and a more heightened awareness of immediate surroundings. Some women may have difficulty sleeping because of this overwhelming fear and may develop additional mental health disorders, such as chronic anxiety or depression. Some of the additional symptoms of PTSD in women may include an inability to trust, improper or exaggerated responses to stimuli, and alcohol or drug addiction.
Women who have suffered from a traumatic event such as rape or some other vicious attack often live in a state of constant fear. In fact, this overwhelming sense of fear is one of the most common symptoms of PTSD in women. It may become difficult for a woman with this disorder to have a healthy social life because she is convinced that there is danger lurking at every corner. If the perpetrator was a male, she may begin to view all males as a very real threat to her safety, resulting in relationship difficulties.
Insomnia is frequently reported as one of the primary symptoms of PTSD in women. A woman who has been physically attacked in the past may interpret every little noise that she hears at night as someone attempting to break in and harm her again. This unrelenting anxiety will often spill over into everyday life, causing the affected woman to jump at every noise or overreact to situations because she always feels on edge. She may be aware of her tendency to overreact and fear rejection from others, adding to her feelings of isolation.
Depression can be among the most dangerous symptoms of PTSD in women. Feelings of fear, anxiety, and isolation can cause a woman with this disorder to feel depressed and hopeless. She may even begin to feel guilty and convince herself that the trauma was somehow her fault or that she should have been strong enough to prevent it. Severe depression may lead to alcohol or drug addiction as the woman begins to grasp for any way to lessen the pain, even if only for a moment. Suicidal thoughts or actions are not uncommon among women with severe cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.