Posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) can result from any traumatic event in which a person comes to harm or believes harm will happen. The harm can be to that person or to someone they know. Witnessing a traumatic event involving a stranger can also cause PTSD. The shock of the event is so significant that it burns its memory deep. With wars, natural disasters, and traumas happening each day, who is most at risk for developing PTSD?
Veterans and PTSD
Due to the jarring, high-mortality nature of wars, veterans have an unfortunately high probability of experiencing PTSD. Each war has its own set of PTSD statistics. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts:
- Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
- As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
- 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
- 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans
It’s estimated that about 120,000 of the deployed Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD since 2002. However, despite the founded generalization, soldiers aren’t the only ones who experience the devastating déjà vu of PTSD. In fact, PTSD affects between 5-7 million Americans each year.
Although there are more male veterans suffering from PTSD than female veterans due to the gender skew of the military, women normally have a higher probability of experiencing PTSD. In fact, 10% of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with 5% of men. This is likely due to women experiencing a higher incidence of sexual assault and child sexual abuse than men.
Children and PTSD
There are very few studies that delve into the incidences of PTSD among children. Most often, however, children suffer PTSD from either abuse or natural disaster. A study by Kilpatrick and colleagues (2003) estimated the prevalence of PTSD among adolescents to be 3.7% for boys and 6.3% for girls. However, with our shifting climate patterns and increasing numbers of natural disasters around the world, this percentage may be on the rise.
Other PTSD Trends
Although most people will hopefully never suffer from PTSD, especially for a prolonged period of time, the truth is that no one is immune from this disorder. Tragedy and trauma can happen to anyone. According to the National Center for PTSD, people are more likely to suffer from PTSD if they:
- Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma, such as being abused as a child
- Have another mental health problem
- Have family members who have had mental health problems
- Have little support from family and friends
- Have recently lost a loved one, especially if it was not expected
- Have had recent, stressful life changes
- Drink a lot of alcohol
- Are a woman
- Are poorly educated
- Are younger
Despite the cause of PTSD, it is important to know there is a treatment for this disorder and people can recover. If you believe that you or a loved one may be struggling with PTSD, call The Center • A Place Of HOPE today at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166. The expert team of professionals will be able to answer your questions about treatment options, and help you identify the best plan for recovery.
Portions of the content of this post were derived from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear.