Posttraumatic stress disorder and older women

J Women Aging. 2007;19(1-2):103-17. doi: 10.1300/J074v19n01_07.


This article examines the literature related to the identification and treatment of post traumatic stress disorder in older women. From this review, several key findings emerge. Consistent in the research literature is the fact that American women are more at risk for PTSD than are men as a result of the high frequency of sexual and domestic physical abuse that women experience. Studies on older women and PTSD indicate that older women are underdiagnosed and are more typically perceived as suffering from depression, anxiety or poor physical health. It was found consistently that older women who present with age-related stressors may not be asked about earlier trauma history or it may not be understood within the context of trauma related variables. In several research studies, trauma history was often not identified either as a result of current assessment practice or because women from certain age cohorts did not disclose trauma-related data to health professionals. Key researchers emphasize the necessity of clinicians, staff and medical personnel to attend to the historical variables present in trauma histories of older women. Researchers underscore the importance of understanding the impact of early and repeated trauma, especially interpersonal trauma, on the physical health and social functioning of older women- even though a significant amount of time may have elapsed since exposure. These findings indicate that further study of PTSD in older women is warranted. The paper concludes with a discussion of assessment and treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Medical History Taking / methods
  • Mental Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health Services / organization & administration
  • Women's Health*