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Women's trail of trauma.

About 12 million women in the United States have had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some time, according to a random national survey conducted in 1989 and 1990. Moreover, the data suggest that around 700,000 U.S. women were raped last year, asserts survey director Dean G. Kilpatrick of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

His group conducted telephone interviews with 4,009 women aged 18 and older. In the first set of interviews, women described previous experiences of rape, attempted sexual assault and physical assault, as well as other highly stressful events such as the death of a loved one or seeing someone killed. One year later, the women reported the requency of their exposure to the same traumas since the initial interview.

Approximately 13 percent reported symptoms of full-blown PTSD at some time in their lives. Typical signs of PTSD include recurring memories and dreams about a traumatic event, emotional detachment from others, extreme suspicion, and difficulty concentrating. Nearly 70 percent reported suffering some type of severe trauma that can lead to PTSD, Kilpatrick maintains. Another 13 percent described themselves as victims of a completed rape at some time in their lives.

Women reporting a history of severe trauma in the first interview displayed a greater likelihood of experiencing traumatic events and PTSD in the following year, Kilpatrick says. Future research must address why, for these women, prior trauma apparently foreshadows further trauma, he contends.

The findings follow a recent study in which 40 percent of young adults reported highly stressful traumas, and 9 percent developed PTSD at some point in their lives (SN: 3/30/91, p.198).
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Title Annotation:post-traumatic stress disorder in women
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 31, 1991
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