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While most clinicians have some sense of the widespread nature of trauma in general, the degree to which PTSD is found in our country as a whole is not as widely appreciated. Below you will find what is currently known concerning the prevalence of PTSD in the United States:


Although the exact number of people diagnosed with PTSD is not known, The National Center for PTSD reported for the year 2022:

- In any given year, approximately 12 million adults have PTSD.
- About 6% percent of people will develop PTSD in the course of their lifetime.
- Women are more likely to develop PTSD then men, as they develop PTSD at the rate of 8% as opposed to 4% for men.
- A little more than half of all women will experience at least one traumatic event in their life.


The most common trauma for women is sexual assault or child sexual abuse. 
- About one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime. 

You are more likely to develop PTSD if you:

- Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma, such as being abused as a child
- Have another mental health problem
- Have family members who have had mental health problems
- Have little support from family and friends
- Have recently lost a loved one, especially if it was not expected
- Were directly exposed to the trauma as a victim or a witness
- Were seriously hurt during the event
- Went through a trauma that was long-lasting or very severe
- Believed that you were in danger
- Believed that a family member was in danger
- Had a severe reaction during the event (crying, shaking, vomiting)
- Felt helpless during the trauma and were not able to help yourself or a loved one.

In addition, The Los Angeles Times reports that 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD and/or depression. This equates to one out of five veterans. As early as 2004, it was reported that 17% of soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan wars would show signs of some stress disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008, Kilpatrick, et. al, 2007)

The National Center for PTSD reported the following in 2022 concerning veterans: 

The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:

  • Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
  • Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
  • Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.

-Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5% of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.
-PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood, but research shows that the median age of onset is 23 years.

Societal Problems Connected to PTSD

In addition to the primary problems accruing to the individuals who suffer from PTSD, PTSD, if left untreated, can contribute to ongoing societal problems. While solid statistics concerning secondary societal problems have not to date been widely publicized, evidence exists that individuals with ill-managed or unmanaged symptoms may spend a disproportionate time in the courts, in jail and in prison systems – creating financial and other societal costs to taxpayers.

At best, severe, untreated symptoms leave the patient with poor quality of life—often isolated and unable to make new friends or maintain family relationships. Individuals whose symptoms have deteriorated to this level often cannot gain or maintain meaningful employment and often have to rely on public welfare systems to survive.

These individuals deplete their natural support systems and are at increased risk of being preyed upon socially. In other words, they may be easily scammed or take advantage of.

For those that cannot navigate the complex systems of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security And other forms of public assistance, may find themselves homeless. In fact, the rate of homelessness is much higher than the rate of the general population. (Obama, 2009)

Additionally, adults who go through life with severe symptoms of PTSD have increased risks in terms of criminal and violent acts such as:

- Rape,
- Child abuse,
- Spouse or partner abuse,
- Homicide or murder,
- Assault and battery,
- Robbery,
- Other non-violent “white collar” crimes.

In fact, some states have already recognized the increased risk arising from readjustment disorders such as PTSD, to the extent that a number of states have established special court systems just for military veterans.

The special Veteran courts that are being developed around the country are aimed at giving veterans with otherwise good records an alternative to jail time. Recognizing that some of the criminal behavior may be related to readjustment issues and self-medication, the courts are offering counseling, psychological and substance abuse treatment. (Brinkerhoff, 2009, Associated Press, 2009)