Males experience more traumatic events on average than do females, yet females are more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a review of 25 years of research reported in the November issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
The authors reviewed 290 studies conducted between 1980 and 2005 to determine who is more at risk for potentially traumatic events (PTE) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – males or females? The results of the meta-analysis found that while males have a higher risk for traumatic events, women suffer from higher PTSD rates. PTSD is defined as an anxiety disorder precipitated by a traumatic event and characterized by symptoms of re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance and numbing and hyperarousal.
From the review, researchers David F. Tolin, PhD of the Institute of Living and Edna B. Foa, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that female study participants were more likely than male study participants to have experienced sexual assault and child sexual abuse, but less likely to have experienced accidents, nonsexual assaults, witness death or injury, disaster or fire and combat or war. Sexual trauma, the authors conclude, may cause more emotional suffering and are more likely to contribute to a PTSD diagnosis than other types of trauma.
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