A new study finds women returning from war are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Anna Kline, who works with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in New Jersey, presented the study at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. She and colleagues did mental health screenings for men and women prior to their deployment to Iraq in 2008, then screened them again three months after their return. The research showed that the incidence of PTSD was 10% higher among the women in the study.
There are numerous explanations for the study’s findings. Sexual trauma among women in the military is well-documented and has been cited as a cause of PTSD. The study also shows that women are less likely to feel a sense of unit cohesion, pointing to isolation as another factor making them vulnerable to PSTD. In light the new study, some have expressed concern that female soldiers suffering from PTSD may not be getting the treatment they need.
Are you in the military? Have you suffered from PTSD? Are you a woman or have you served alongside women? Do the results of this study ring true for you?
- ANNA KLINE: Director of the dual diagnosis development unit at the VA New Jersey Health System and lead author of “Gender Differences in the Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Combat Stress Disorder”
- IRENE POWCH: Assistant professor of psychology and a staff psychologist in the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Clinical Team at OHSU, and a psychologist at the Portland VA Medical Center