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PTSD and Evidence-Based Practices

PTSD Statistics and Co-Morbidity

PTSD DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria
PTSD Statistics and Co-Morbidity
Biological Mechanisms and PTSD
Exposure Therapy
Trauma-Focused Therapy
Additional Information

Current PTSD Statistics

  • An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event in thier lives.
  • An estimated 8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives - that is 1 in every 13 Americans!
  • An estimated 5 percent of Americans - more than 13 million people - will have PTSD at any given time.
  • Women (10.4%) are twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD.
  • The traumatic events most associated with PTSD for men are: rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect, and childhood physcial abuse.
  • The traumatic events most associated with PTSD for women are: rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, and childhood sexual abuse.
  • About 30% of the men and women who have spent time in a war zone experience PTSD. 
  • One million war veterans developed PTSD after serving in Vietnam. 
  • PTSD has also been detected among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, with some estimates running as high as 8 percent.

PTSD and Co-Morbidity

  1. Persons that suffer from PTSD experience few, some, or many of the following symptoms:
  • Significant Social Maladjustment
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Medical CoMorbidity
  • General Symptom Severity.

   2.  General Symptom Severity includes:

  • Social Avoidance
  • Social Phobia
  • Guilt
  • Difficulties with Anger and Anger Control
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Unemployment
  • Family Discord

Self-destructive behavior, including:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal impulses
  • High-risk sexual behaviors
  • Other high-risk behavior that may be life-endangering, such as fast or reckless driving

     3.  Physical complaints, any or all of which may be accompanied by Depression.

    4.  PTSD is typically accompanied by multiple comorbid Axis I and II Disorders, including Major Depression, Psychosis, Personality Disorders, other Anxiety Disorders (such as Panic Disorder), and Substance Abuse.


PTSD Statistics and Severe Mental Illness (SMI)

  • Recent studies show that trauma victimization is highly prevalent (51-98%) among persons with SMI, such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder, who are treated within the public sector (Frueh, 2004). 
  • In a multisite study, it was found that 98% of community mental health consumers with SMI had a history of trauma exposure and 42% had diagnoses of PTSD (Mueser et al., 1998).
  • Surveys indicate that between 34% and 53% of patients with severe mental illness report childhood sexual and physical abuse (Greenfield et. al, 1994, Ross et. al, 1994).
  • Romme and Escher, 1989, found that 70% of people who hear voices developed their hallucinations following a traumatic event (as cited in Callcott and Standart, 2004).
  • Unfortunately, there are virtually no empirical outcome data concerning treatment of PTSD in people with SMI who are treated within public-sector mental health clinics, a population with high levels of psychiatric comorbidity, substance abuse, symptom chronicity, and impaired social and occupational functioning.
  • Research is beginning to address this area as the above concerns come to light.

Amber Hursh, Justin Reimenschneider, Justine Tedesco
RSSW 705 Evidence-Based Practice in Mental Health
Dr. Zvi Gellis, SUNY Albany, Rockefeller College of Social Work