Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Men
Basics of PTSD
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
- Personal exposure to combat situations (even as a non-combatant)
- Involvement in major natural or manmade disasters, and
- Involvement in major accidents
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress can appear shortly after trauma exposure. However, you don’t actually have PTSD unless those symptoms are present a minimum of 30 days later. Short-term damaging stress reactions fall under the heading of a second diagnosable condition called acute stress disorder, or ASD.
Statistics in Men
Overall, roughly 7% to 8% of all people exposed to life-threatening trauma will eventually develop diagnosable post-traumatic stress disorder. However, only 4% of men exposed to such trauma will develop PTSD. In stark contrast, about 10% of all trauma-exposed women will qualify for a diagnosis of the condition.
Sexual assault exposure is one of the most common sources of PTSD. 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 numbers of men in service, male sexual assault victims actually outnumber female victims.
Differing Effects in Men
Research indicates that men affected by PTSD tend to 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 disorder. In addition, men have a substantially higher chance of drinking heavily in an attempt to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. Among other things, these facts mean that men affected by post-traumatic stress disorder may benefit from gender-specific treatment in a men’s treatment center.
National Institute of Mental Health: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – National Center for PTSD: How Common Is PTSD? http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp
Current Medical Research and Opinion: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Symptom Profiles in Men and Women http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1185/030079903125001604