Women are two times more likely to develop PTSD than men. Approximately 10% of women will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Any event that overwhelms your ability to cope can cause this disorder. Examples include sudden illness, death of a loved one, accidents, physical assault, rape, and emotional abuse. PTSD symptoms in women are usually different from those in men, but people of either gender can experience any of the symptoms. A person doesn’t need to have all possible symptoms to have the disorder. Only a mental health care professional can diagnose PTSD and other mental health disorders.
Common PTSD Symptoms in Women
Although the symptoms of PTSD are the same for both genders, women more frequently experience specific symptoms compared to men. These symptoms include being easily startled, feeling depressed, experiencing anxiety, and avoiding things that remind them of the traumatic experience.
Other symptoms of PTSD include:
- Back pain
- Digestive problems
- Social isolation
- Self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty concentrating
Women tend to suffer from their PTSD symptoms longer than men before seeking diagnosis and treatment. Men, on average, seek diagnosis and treatment after a year of symptoms. Women seek diagnosis and treatment after four years of PTSD symptoms on average.
Another factor is that women often internalize more than men do. When bad things happen to women, they often feel as if something is wrong with them. Women usually suffer from pressures to be perfect. This suffering delays them in recognizing their symptoms and seeking treatment.
PTSD and Substance Abuse
PTSD can sometimes lead to substance abuse. All mental health disorders, in general, increase the likelihood of someone developing a substance use problem. Whether consciously or subconsciously, those who are struggling use a substance to mask unpleasant emotions and to feel good. Drugs and alcohol have addictive properties that change areas of your brain, making it difficult to impossible to quit without enrolling in a drug rehab program.
The Willows is a safe substance use treatment center for women that specializes in trauma-informed treatment. We have the necessary skills to help you overcome both substance use disorder and PTSD. As a women-only treatment center, The Willows makes clients feel relaxed and safe.
Studies on gender-specific substance abuse treatment have found that women benefit more from women-only programs. Many women have a male-related trauma from their past. Being in an environment with men hinders their recovery because it makes it more challenging for them to feel entirely safe. At The Willows, we work with women to help them heal from past traumas so that they can begin to feel secure and confident again.
What Makes Some Women More Likely to Develop PTSD Than Others?
Some women are at a higher risk of developing PTSD than other women. Women who were directly exposed to a traumatic event experienced childhood trauma or were seriously hurt during a traumatic event are more likely to have PTSD. Drinking a lot and having a mental health condition also puts women at higher risk of experiencing this disorder. If a trauma lasts a long time or is severe, the woman is at a higher risk of developing PTSD. Around 50% of rape victims develop PTSD. Women who directly witness a traumatic event are also at higher risk of developing PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD can start years after the traumatic event. They may also begin immediately after the event or months later. We recommend seeing a therapist after a traumatic event to process it healthily thoroughly. This therapy can help prevent you from developing PTSD.
Trauma and substance use do not have to control your life. You can lean on us to guide you through the healing process. The Willows has dual-licensed master’s level clinicians trained in treating not just substance use problems but other mental health issues. We also offer holistic and experiential therapies, such as:
- Meditation therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Equine-assisted therapy
Our rehab facility is a therapeutic place for women to overcome substance use and trauma. Contact the Willows at Red Oak at 855.773.0614 to enroll in a drug rehab program and get help to heal from any past wounds.