Women and PTSD: The Public Health Problem Nobody Talks About
Hidden behind the #MeToo movement is a disturbing and largely unappreciated fact: Women far outnumber men suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with sexual victimization the leading cause.
The reason, many researchers say, has to do with the numbers of victims and the nature of the offense. Gender differences in the way women and men process threats may also play a role, as does the newly understood corrosive nature of ongoing, chronic stressors, such as sexually based street or workplace harassment. Just as important is the frequently shrouded nature of sexual violence itself. Deeply personal, these attacks are so deeply violating that their effects can persist far beyond the actual incident.
Some try to move on.
But moving on without proper treatment can be tough. J. Douglas Bremner, MD, is a professor of psychiatry and radiology and director of the Emory Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (ECNRU) at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. His paper, published in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, linked the flood of hormones unleashed by extreme or prolonged stress — the kind that occurs in trauma — to damage to the brain’s hippocampus and the anterior cingulate, the areas that regulate emotion.