Unraveling the lasting effects of PTSD on women

Women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and roughly 10 out of every 100 women experience PTSD, according to news reports.

An October 9, 2019 Washington Post article explored the impacts that PTSD has on women. The story discussed the experience of Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was diagnosed with PTSD after she was raped in Niger while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1991.

Koenen told the Post about her symptoms and her recovery, as well as her current research on trauma and PTSD, including a large study on the genetic differences among people who have PTSD and those who don’t.

“If we see differences with PTSD vs. those without PTSD, that might point us to important biological clues,” Koenen said. “If we can better understand the biology of the disorder, it could lead to new treatments.”

The article also discussed research showing a link between PTSD and a higher risk of various diseases, including heart disease, obesity,diabetes, blood clots, certain cancers and autism in the offspring of survivors.

“For many years, PTSD was understood to be strictly a mental disorder, but evidence has been mounting that PTSD also has physiological effects,” said Andrea Roberts, a research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health. “It has effects on our bodies that increase the risk for a broad array of diseases.”

Read the Washington Post article: Women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from PTSD. Studies are underway to find out why.