Like other mental disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can hit anyone and should not be looked upon as a signal of weakness. Available statistics indicate that about eight million U.S. adults have PTSD each year. Thankfully, treatment options to manage the symptoms exist, including psychotherapy, self-help, and medicine like ketamine.
WHAT IS PTSD?
The Office on Women’s Health says: “After a dangerous or scary event, it is normal to feel upset, afraid, and anxious. For most people, these feelings fade within a few weeks. But some people continue to have these feelings for months or years afterward.” Someone will keep re-experiencing the incident and avoid reminders of it. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and women are twice as likely as men to develop it during their lifetimes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD?
- You recall the event, often through dreams or flashbacks. You can feel physical impacts, such as sweating or a racing heart.
- You avoid anything reminding you of the incident. For example, being in a car crash could lead to you avoid traveling by car or visiting the crash location.
- You have negative feelings and thoughts which make it difficult to live your life. You may have problems remembering; feel guilt, anger, or shame; or experience more bad thoughts about yourself. You might feel numb or empty. It might be difficult to show happiness or interest in pastimes you once enjoyed.
- You feel nervous, jittery, or tense. This can make it difficult to sleep or focus on everyday tasks like school, work, or reading.
If any of these symptoms continue for one month or longer and are making it difficult to live your life as normal, talk to a healthcare provider.
HOW ARE SYMPTOMS DIFFERENT FOR WOMEN THAN MEN?
Men and women are both susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, but women can experience PTSD differently than male victims. Women suffering from PTSD may be more likely to:
- Be easily surprised
- Have more difficulty feeling emotions or feel disoriented
- Avoid things which remind them of the incident
- Feel anxious and depressed
PTSD symptoms usually last longer in women than men (around four years versus one year) before identification and treatment, but women experiencing PTSD are at less risk than men to experience trouble with drugs or alcohol following the trauma. Both women and men can also develop physical health issues.
DO WE KNOW WHAT CAUSES PTSD?
Any life-threatening or dangerous trauma, event, or frightening situation can boost the risk of PTSD. These situations involve:
- Violent crimes: seeing violent crimes or being a victim, including instances of muggings, physical abuse, shootings, or rape
- Loved ones at risk: hearing of a loved one or another you are very close to, like a spouse or child, experiencing trauma
- Sudden illness or death: the violent or accidental death or grave ailment of a loved one
- War: being exposed to combat or war, as a civilian or through military service
- Accidents: train or plane crashes, car accidents, or other kinds of major accidents
- Natural disasters: tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or fires
Many other kinds of trauma can boost the risk of PTSD but being an accident victim or sexually or physically attacked are the most frequent trauma that result in PTSD. Women experiencing PTSD compared to men are more likely to have been sexually or physically attacked. Not everyone who survives a traumatic event comes down with PTSD, but anyone can develop it at any age.
Significant mental health research indicates that slightly more than half of women will suffer at least one traumatic incident in their lifetime. But overall, females are a bit less likely to suffer trauma than men.
TREATMENT FOR PTSD
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, your doctor or therapist could possibly recommend psychotherapy and a treatment like ketamine infusion therapy, to help manage symptoms of the condition. Ketamine was originally used as a battlefield anesthetic, but research has discovered other therapeutic uses, too, especially in helping neurotransmitters function in the brain.
Women are at greater risk of developing PTSD in their lifetimes than men, and their symptoms are just as serious. If you believe you suffer from this or another mental health disorder, contact us today to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine, or visit the Office on Women’s Health for additional resources.