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Women: Silent Victims of PTSD

This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR & BACKGROUND:

My name is Anna, and I am a student at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta Georgia. This is my third psychology class with Global Online Academy, so I have a well-founded interest in this topic. During my Social Psychology course last semester with Dr. Ara Brown, I created a website called Rebuild and Recover. My website focuses on Cambodian Youth positively rebuilding after the Khmer Rouge Genocide, even in the face of PTSD and other mental health disorders. This project is linked below, and I encourage you to explore!

Rebuild and Recover

This semester, I wanted to pursue another project on PTSD, but this time one that focuses on American women suffering from the mental disorder. With this project, I want to catalyze change on the local level both because I’m in a position to do it, and I haven’t heard much discussion of this topic at all. I care because I know people who have been through PTSD, and it’s absolutely horrible for the patients themselves, their families, and their friends. Therefore, “Women: Silent Victims of PTSD” matters because everyone (both men and women) deserves to live a life free from mental disorders.


THE CHALLENGE:

 

In addition to the above statistics, it is important to note that 5 in 10 women will experience trauma in their lifetimes, and that 10 percent of these women will develop PTSD. Therefore, 5/100 women will develop PTSD at some point in their lifetimes (diagnosed & treated or undiagnosed & untreated). In accordance with these statistics, my challenge was to raise awareness about PTSD in women, and to help my audience understand the causes, the effects, and what needs to be done to help women with this disorder. Watch the interview below with U.S. Army Soldier Maddy Eagler to understand more about why this is such a prevalent issue…


THE BASICS OF PTSD IN WOMEN:

  • According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, “Some PTSD symptoms are more common in women than men. Women are more likely to be jumpy, to have more trouble feeling emotions, and to avoid things that remind them of the trauma than men.”
  • Males often have symptoms of extreme anger with PTSD, whereas women usually have feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • The most common causes of PTSD in women are sexual assault, childhood abuse/neglect, and combat trauma.

 

 

  • Only 4 of 10 soldiers diagnosed with PTSD will receive the help that they need.
  • Women are more susceptible than men to retain “fear conditioning” after a traumatic event.
  • PTSD can contribute to physical health problems.
  • Comorbidity is common with PTSD, and it’s easier to develop PTSD if already suffering from another mental health disorder.

 

 

  • 70% of soldiers who experience combat trauma will develop PTSD.
  • PTSD is curable!

LET’S SEE WHAT YOU LEARNED:

Please take this kahoot challenge to see what what you’ve learned about PTSD in women throughout this project so far! If you don’t want to take out a separate device or aren’t in a classroom setting, feel free to play in preview mode with a split screen here.


THE PLEDGE:

Now that you have foundational knowledge about PTSD in women, what are you going to do about it? If you are interested, I encourage you to electronically sign the following pledge to raise awareness about PTSD in American Women.

Create your own user feedback survey


WHAT’S NEXT:

  1. Education (this is the step that we/you are participating in!): educate yourself on PTSD in women so that you know how to spot it and how to communicate basic facts about the disorder to others.
  2. Awareness: The more people who know about this topic, the more likely it is that psychologists, scientists and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs will begin to focus on treating PTSD in women.
  3. Funded Research: the more awareness and advocacy there is surrounding PTSD in women, the more likely it is that government and large corporation will sponsor research and medical care of women with PTSD.
  4. Equal Care: This is the larger goal of projects like mine, other equality groups, and others who focus on mental health. We are striving towards equal amount of attention, research, and medical care for men and women in the field of PTSD therapy.




SOURCES CITED:

Breslau, N. “Gender Differences in Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” The Journal of Gender Specific Medicine, 1 Jan. 2002. Europe PMC. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

“Do You Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?” Chicago Mind Solutions, 2017. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

Eveleth, Rose. “Women Are the Invisible Victims of PTSD.” Motherboard, VICE, 5 May 2016. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

“Facts about Women and Trauma.” American Psychological Association, 2018. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

“Healing PTSD.” Making People Whole, The Body Mind Being Project, 2017. Accessed 23 Apr. 2018.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, 2016. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

“PTSD: National Center for PTSD: Women, Trauma, and PTSD.” U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 13 Aug. 2015. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

“Symptoms of PTSD.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, 2016. Accessed 14 Apr. 2018.

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 27, 2018 by Andrew RIordan

    On the superficial level, this is excellently organized and aesthetically pleasing. The topic, in general, is difficult to discuss and examine closely as it is so emotional, but you have done a great job of not letting emotion interfere and instead using empathy to drive the point forward. PTSD is becoming more and more widely accepted and slowly is becoming better understood, but there is always more that can be done and I hope that you can be a part of that movement with efforts like this!

    • April 29, 2018 by Anna Thompson

      Andrew, thank you so much for the positive feedback and taking the time to look at my project, I really appreciate it! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any more comments/questions!

  2. April 29, 2018 by Cabery Taylor

    This project is so well thought out and researched! Your statistics are awesome and I signed your pledge! It’s so amazing to see you catalyzing change on such a pressing topic in our community! Question for you– how do medical treatments of women with PTSD differ from the medicine given to men with PTSD? Job well done!

    • April 29, 2018 by Anna Thompson

      Cabery, thank you so much for the positive feedback and taking the time to look at my project, I really appreciate it! In answer to your question, many recent studies have shown that antidepressants and other PTSD-related drugs are less effective in treating women than they are in treating men. However, psychologists are moving more towards the idea that cognitive therapy is super effective in treating specifically women with PTSD (removing fear-conditioning), which is definitely a positive.
      Feel free to reach out to me if you have any more comments/questions!

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