When people talk about being stressed out, it is often in the context of a temporarily difficult situation. Maybe they are overworked or struggling with finances. But when stress is persistent or extreme, it can take an enormous and devastating toll on sufferers. Their health can decline, relationships can break down, and in some cases they may be unable to cope with or handle situations around them.

These are just a few of the severe challenges that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder typically face. Research into PTSD is widespread and ongoing, as doctors and researchers try to better understand the condition, as well as why some people suffer from PTSD and others in similar situations do not. According to one recent study, gender could be a significant factor in finding these answers.

The study evaluated 103 women who were admitted to the ER after a traumatic event. Researchers monitored them upon being admitted, then again a month and three months later. They found that at each follow-up marker, the women were much more likely than men in similar situations to be diagnosed with PTSD.

Researchers believe that there may be two reasons for this: genetic markers that vary between genders and estradiol levels. The thinking behind this is that genetics and hormone levels could significantly impact how a person experiences a traumatic event and how they are able to cope with (or “extinguish”) feelings of fear after the event.

The research is certainly interesting, and with more investigation and testing, it could improve the treatment and recovery efforts that sufferers receive.

Currently, unfortunately, PTSD can be considered a severe and life-changing mental health illness. In fact, PTSD and its impact on a person’s life can be so devastating that it is considered to be a disabling mental condition according to the Social Security Administration. However, with enough physical, medical, emotional, psychological and financial support, it can be possible for people dealing with this terrible condition to cope with their symptoms and focus on recovery.

Source: Medscape, “Women Much More Likely to Develop PTSD,” Fran Lowry, April 14, 2015