Women With PTSD: “I Thought It Was A Man Thing”
Post traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone. It is a common misconception that PTSD is problem specifically affecting male veterans who’ve recently come home from a war torn country in the Middle East. PTSD in the military is a very important issue and many films, such as American Sniper with Bradley Cooper and The Hurt Locker with Jeremy Renner, do an excellent job at spreading the word and informing people about veterans with PTSD. While Hollywood and the media deserve credit for starting a conversation about PTSD and working to break the stigma behind mental illness, there is still a largely unrecognized group of people who are too often left out of the PTSD conversation: women.
The unfortunate truth is that PTSD is much more widespread than most people believe. Mental health does not discriminate and PTSD is no exception. One of the most commonly overlooked demographics for sufferers of PTSD is women. In fact, women statistically have a higher rate of PTSD than men. According to the National Centre For PTSD, women are more than twice as likely to develop the disorder, with approximately 10% of women and 4% of men being diagnosed with the illness in their lifetime.
There are many plausible reasons for this. For example, women are much more likely to experience sexual assault, and problems during pregnancy and childbirth. While both men and women are susceptible to most traumatic events, such as car accidents, combat in a war zone, or being assaulted, some problems – a miscarriage, for example – can only affect women.
A recent study done by Britain’s National Health Service discovered that nearly 13% of women in the United Kingdom experienced some symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. That is a staggering number when compared side by side to 4% in men. The video below shows a BBC interview with two women who suffer from PTSD for two very different reasons.
Cassie, a survivor of child abuse, and Jade, who had a tragic miscarriage, open up about their stories and share how trauma in their pasts affected their day to day lives. After Jade’s miscarriage in 2009, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She says all it took was the sound of running water to trigger her symptoms, and the only relief was to go for a long walk to try to quiet her thoughts.
“It took over my life. I lived like that every day, all day,
constantly thinking about it like I was in that room again.”
Cassie recalls the pain of reliving her childhood trauma as if she was experiencing every second of it in real time. She suffered flashbacks to physical, emotional, and mental abuse that continued to haunt her until she sought out help.
“You feel every single emotion and every single pain that you felt when it happened.”
Both women feel that women with PTSD is an issue that needs to be discussed and recognized more. Perhaps if people recognized the amount of women who suffer from the mental illness, more women like Cassie and Jade would feel comfortable seeking help instead of continuing to suffer. That’s why it is so important that we include women in the discussion about PTSD.