Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur any time an individual is exposed to a situation that causes extreme emotional distress. It affects the young and old alike, as well as people from all racial, socioeconomic, and religious demographics.
In the United States, the prevalence rate of PTSD in the general population is 7.8%.
There is one demographic preference in the PTSD data that has been collected over the past 50 years: gender. Women are 2x more likely to be affected by PTSD when compared to men. Abusive situations, physical and sexual attacks, or being threatened by a weapon are the most likely causes of PTSD in women.
War Has a Profound Effect on All PTSD Demgraphics
- 1.7 million US veterans who fought in the Vietnam War have been diagnosed with PTSD.
- For the Vietnam Theater, the prevalence rate for PTSD in men is 30.9% and for women is 26.9%.
- An additional 22.5% of men and 21.2% of women who where involved in the Vietnam Theater experienced a partial PTSD incident at some point in their lives.
- 40% of men who fought in Vietnam for the US have been divorced at least once, with 1 in 4 men in that group having multiple divorces.
- 34% of Vietnam veterans have been arrested or placed in jail at least once, with 11% of them having been convicted of a felony.
- 39% of Vietnam veterans admit to alcohol abuse or dependence, which is 3x greater than the general population.
- Vietnam veterans are 4x more likely to use illicit drugs.
War may be the most extreme environment that people can be exposed to on a regular basis. This takes nothing away from the random acts of violence or family abuse that will also cause PTSD. It simply goes to show that the human body has a breaking point and war causes more people to reach that point. Some symptoms of PTSD don’t even begin to appear for up to 25 years, which means these numbers could continue to go up.
A Link Between PTSD and TBI
- Although 20% of current veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, it is believed to be a higher percentage because up to 19% of veterans are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- 50% of civilians and veterans who may have PTSD never seek out any help for their symptoms.
- 60% of men in the general population and 51% of women report that at least one traumatic event has happened in their lives.
- The average age of onset for PTSD in the US is 23 years of age.
- In the next 12 months, 3.5% of all adults will be diagnosed with PTSD, with 36% of those cases being considered severe.
It is easy to think that the symptoms of PTSD will get better on their own, but many people are simply running away from the issue instead of treating it. People can throw themselves into professional or family responsibilities, but when it comes time to retire or have the kids move out, the PTSD creeps back in. With TBI being an effective mimic of symptoms, it is more important than ever to make sure multiple opinions are sought out instead of attempting to self-treat PTSD.
The Cost of PTSD
- The treatment of all anxiety disorders in the United States, including PTSD, has a cost of over $40 billion annually. Part of this cost includes misdiagnosis or under-treatment issues.
- About half of all outpatient mental health patients have PTSD at some level.
- Almost 3 out of 4 female military personnel develop PTSD today not because of what happens on the battlefield, but because of sexual assault which occurs within the ranks.
- From a 2009 ORD report, just $14 million was spent on research for TBI and PTSD, which was 2.9% of the total research appropriation budget.
- In children, 3.7% of boys and 6.3% of girls suffer from PTSD as defined by the DSM-IV.
- PTSD prevalence globally ranges from 0.3% (China) to 6.1% (New Zealand), but methodological differences in diagnosis make it impossible to compare statistics internationally.
This is a billions vs. millions debate and we’re losing the battle. In just one recent year, the diagnosis rate of PTSD in the US jumped by 50% and that only includes patients that sought treatment. The actual rates of PTSD could be 2x what are listed here. We must begin to take this disorder seriously if we are going to be able to effectively treat those who are affected but it.