Female soldiers at increased rates of developing PTSD following sexual trauma

Published on October 29, 2010 at 6:25 AM · No Comments

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, continues to inflict a mental and physical toll on America's soldiers, leaving physical, emotional and spiritual scars long after these veterans have left their posts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, for female soldiers, sexual assault and rape can create similar, and many times more treatment-resistant, symptoms of PTSD, according to Dr. Kimberly Dennis. She currently serves as medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, one of the leading residential treatment centers for eating disorders and addictions, with or without trauma or a co-occurring disorder.

"It has been well-documented in research literature that women are already twice as likely to develop PTSD as men following a trauma," said Dr. Dennis. "And in the military, women have to deal with increased rates of sexual harassment and assault. Recent studies have shown that even without exposure to combat, our female troops could have increased rates of developing PTSD following rape or sexual assault than they could after combat."

Sexual assault in the military has been a serious problem throughout history. Among those seeking VA disability following the first Persian Gulf War, 71 percent of women reported sexual assault during their military service. At present time, for women in the military, 21.5 percent suffer some kind of sexual trauma while serving, while among men the numbers are closer to 1.1 percent.

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