Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, including:
- Being female
- Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
- Having experienced other trauma earlier in life
- Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Having first-degree relatives with mental health problems, including PTSD
- Having first-degree relatives with depression
- Having been abused or neglected as a child
Women may be at increased risk of PTSD because they are more likely to experience the kinds of trauma that can trigger the condition.
Kinds of traumatic events
Post-traumatic stress disorder is especially common among those who have served in combat. It's sometimes called "shell shock," "battle fatigue" or "combat stress."
The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood neglect and physical abuse
- Sexual molestation
- Physical attack
- Being threatened with a weapon
But many other traumatic events also can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, including fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, assault, civil conflict, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack and other extreme or life-threatening events.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder. In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. ArlingtonWashington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Shalev AY. Posttraumatic stress disorder and stress-related disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2009;32:687.
- Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2010;4:414.
- May AC, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00025-1--sc30645&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00025-1--sc30645&uniqId=230982534-3. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Holzer SR. Mediational significance of PTSD in the relationship of sexual trauma and eating disorders. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal. 2008;32:561. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/citation/body/230982534-5/jorg=journal&source=MI&sp=20885418&sid=1101209736/N/20885418/1.html?issn=0145-2134. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Understanding PTSD. National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_ptsd/booklet.pdf. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Nakell L. Adult post-traumatic stress disorder: Screening and treating in primary care. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2007;34:593.
- Acupuncture may help symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/092107.htm. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Coping with traumatic stress reactions. National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/coping-traumatic-stress.asp. Accessed Jan. 12, 2011.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 11, 2011.