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Are Female Soldiers at a Higher Risk of PTSD?

female soldiers ptsd

There have been concerns about the rate of PTSD in female soldiers so researchers with the Defense and Veterans Affairs conducted a study to determine whether female soldiers have PTSD more frequently or in larger numbers than their male counterparts. The study involved more than 2,300 pairs, with each pair having a male and a female soldier who were matched using a wide range of variables that included combat exposure. The teams were followed for an average of at least 7 years. UCSF Medical School associate professor and San Francisco VA Medical Center staff psychologist Dr. Shira Maguen explained “This is the first study to prospectively investigate the development of PTSD in male and female service members who were matched on multiple important characteristics that could explain some of the differences in PTSD, including military sexual trauma. We found no gender differences in the development of PTSD. Consequently, our focus should be on the types of traumatic experiences that people have been exposed to, rather than any inherent gender differences in the development of PTSD.”

The study on female soldiers and PTSD shows that women do not suffer from this mental disorder more often than men. Maguen stated “Generally, when studies look at PTSD rates among returning veterans, they look at everyone, regardless of whether they had PTSD in the past from pre-military traumas or prior deployments. Here we were only looking at new cases. I do think military women are extremely resilient, but I think the differences in rates in the civilian literature actually have to do with a number of factors, including women having much higher rates of interpersonal traumas, which we know put people at high risk for PTSD.”

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