Anyone exposed to a highly traumatic event or situation with the potential to cause injury or death can develop diagnosable symptoms of the mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, men have PTSD risks that differ from women for several reasons. In addition, post-traumatic stress disorder in men typically involves symptoms that differ from those of their female counterparts. These facts make a men’s treatment center an ideal option in seeking effective care for PTSD in men.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a terrifying or life-threatening event. A person with PTSD may relive the traumatic event through intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares. They may also experience sleep problems, depression, anxiety, irritability, outbursts of anger, and a general feeling of being on edge.
PTSD affects men and women differently. In general, women are more likely than men to develop PTSD after a traumatic event. However, the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in men may be more severe than those experienced by women with the condition.
The potential for the onset of PTSD arises because life-threatening situations can overwhelm your body’s built-in anti-stress coping mechanisms. Common examples of these overwhelming situations include:
- Incidents of sexual assault or rape
- Involvement in major accidents
- Involvement in major natural or manmade disasters
- Personal exposure to combat situations, even as a non-combatant
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress can appear shortly after trauma exposure. However, you don’t actually have PTSD unless those symptoms are still present after a minimum of 30 days later. Short-term damaging stress reactions fall under a second diagnosable condition called acute stress disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Men
Roughly 7% to 8% of all people exposed to life-threatening trauma will eventually develop diagnosable PTSD. However, only 4% of men exposed to such trauma develop PTSD. In stark contrast, about 10% of all trauma-exposed women will qualify for a diagnosis of the condition.
When men develop post-traumatic stress disorder, their symptoms tend to differ from those experienced by women. For example, research has shown that:
- Men are more likely than women to avoid discussing traumatic events and situations.
- Men with PTSD are more likely to use alcohol and other substances to self-medicate their symptoms.
- Men with PTSD are more likely to experience hyperarousal symptoms, such as insomnia and irritability.
- Men are more likely than women to act out their feelings of anger aggressively or violently.
Higher PTSD levels in men often lead to increased risks of developing co-occurring disorders. For example, men with PTSD are more likely than women to also suffer from addiction.
Causes of PTSD in Men
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs keeps track of assault incidents among military servicemen and servicewomen. As in the civilian world, sexual attacks in the military happen to women much more often than they happen to men. Still, because of the sheer number of male service members, male sexual assault victims outnumber female victims. Other causes of PTSD in men can include:
- Childhood abuse
- Serious accidents
However, sexual assault exposure remains one of the most common beginnings of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD in Men
Research indicates that men affected by PTSD experience symptoms that differ somewhat from those found in women. Specifically, men with the disorder have a substantially higher chance of displaying increased irritability than women with the condition. In addition, men have a considerably higher chance of drinking heavily to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms.
Learn More About Promises Behavioral Health’s Trauma and PTSD Treatment Centers
Promises Behavioral Health operates specialized trauma and PTSD treatment centers that help men deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in an effective and safe manner. Our programs feature integrative approaches that address both the psychological and physical effects of PTSD. To learn more about these programs, call 844.875.5609.