There are a number of research studies that have examined a potential gender difference in the prevalence of PTSD in men and women. One study reported that females were more likely than men to develop PTSD in response to sexual trauma and to be significantly more affected by re-experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks of the traumatic event. Additonally, women were found to be more likely to report feelings of emotional numbing and actively avoid emotional stimuli to a greater extend than their male counterparts. Conversely, men diagnosed with PTSD were also more likely to be diagnosed with a personality disorder and self medicate with drugs or alcohol. Research has also found that males are more likely to experience symptoms of irritability, anger and hypervigilance.
Other studies that have examined the gender difference in the exposure to potentially traumatic events. Males have been reported to have a higher chance of directly witnessing accidents, nonsexual assaults, death or serious injury, a natural or man-made disaster, combat or warfare. Women are more likely to be subjected to sexual assault and child sexual abuse. When these gender differences in the exposure to threatening events were taken into account, there were still more women than men who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, there are still questions over whether the gender differences arises due to a reporting bias with more women reporting they have a problem. There has also been a level of debate over whether women may be at higher risk of experiencing trauma or they have an underlying vulnerability that means that they are more likely develop the symptoms of PTSD.
Men are more likely to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if they were to be subjected to a traumatic experience including rape or combat experience. Men are more likely to be confronted with trauma in front line combat and are more likely to be in trauma exposing jobs such as the police force and fire brigade. As such, they are at a greater risk of witnessing or being involved in a highly traumatic event from which they may develop symptoms of PTSD.
Scientific and statistical analysis consistently reports that women are more likely to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. However, the controversy lies in deciding whether women are more susceptible to PTSD or they are in potentially dangerous and traumatic circumstances than men.
A person can be exposed to threat at any age or time in their lives with the severe stress developing into a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder. Different aged children will respond to PTSD differently; younger children may report disturbing dreams of the actual trauma, often the dreams will develop into nightmares with some containing monsters. Children will often
re-live the events of the trauma in their play. A child who was part of a serious road traffic accident may play out the crash with toy cars, often repetitively or a child may re-enact a sexual abuse event using dolls.
Children suffering from PTSD may demonstrate a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and will express beliefs that they will die prematurely. Symptoms of PTSD in Children will frequently involve complaints of headaches and upset stomachs.
Older children may experience PTSD slightly difference with emotional numbness and avoidance of event related stimuli. Additionally, they may show greater emotional changes in that they will be more irritable and angry.