PTSD Symptoms in Women

ptsd in women

If a frightening, shocking or life-threatening event has left you with intrusive flashbacks, frequent nightmares and a sense of lost control, you may be one of the millions of Americans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that about 10% of women will develop PTSD at some point in their lives, compared with only 4% of men. What causes this potentially debilitating condition, and how can you successfully address it to move on with your life?

What Causes PTSD?

For women, typical causes of PTSD include sexual assault and domestic abuse, but any event that leaves a significant mark on you could cause you to develop PTSD, including:

  • Serving in combat as an active-duty member of the armed forces
  • Surviving a car accident 
  • Undergoing a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, wildfire or tornado
  • Being a victim of a robbery
  • The unexpected death of a loved one

It’s essential to remember that trauma doesn’t affect everyone equally, which means you might struggle with PTSD symptoms after walking away from a car accident while your passenger does not. That doesn’t mean you’re “weak” and they’re “strong;” it merely indicates you’re processing the event differently. Some people also have unique risk factors that may make them more vulnerable to PTSD, such as a family history of mental illness.

PTSD doesn’t always happen immediately after a traumatic experience. Sometimes, it takes years to develop, which is one reason some mental health professionals predict that the cascade of changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may cause many emerging PTSD cases in the coming years.

Understanding PTSD Symptoms in Women

PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder characterized by vivid, intense memories of the traumatic event, which can force you to relive it over and over again. Other symptoms include:

  • Sweating, shallow breathing and a racing heartbeat
  • Avoiding people, places and things that remind you of what you went through
  • Hyperarousal – a constant feeling of being on edge
  • Feeling jittery and nervous, which might interrupt daily activities by causing concentration problems 

Though women and men may have similar experiences with PTSD, this disorder can cause women to feel more acutely anxious, depressed or numb. Women with PTSD might also practice avoidance and self-medicate with drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms instead of seeking treatment. 

Help for Women With PTSD

The good news is that your brain is plastic, which means you can heal from PTSD if you practice patience and are willing to work through your trauma. If you have PTSD, your first step should be to look for a mental health professional with experience in providing trauma-focused treatment. After evaluating your condition, they can recommend specific types of therapy for you, including options like:

A trained counselor can also offer you suggestions for healthy ways to relax and avoid stress, such as exercising, meditation, journaling, volunteering and limiting your news consumption.

Recovering in a Women’s-Only Environment

At Canyon Crossing, we specialize in the unique needs of women with co-occurring disorders such as PTSD and substance abuse. Our continuing care programming includes transitional living, outpatient treatment, family education and long-term treatment. To learn more and verify your insurance coverage, connect with us today

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
Scroll to Top