Dozens of comedians have made their living joking about the differences between men and women. There are some light-hearted ways to address the differences between the sexes, but in some situations, the difference between how men and women are wired can make a significant difference in how serious situations are handled – like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other service-related issues.
A recent study performed by a team of mental health professionals at Boston University School of Medicine and recently published in Clinical Psychological Science found that male and female veterans experience and react to deployment stress and PTSD in very different ways – a difference that could have large impacts in the treatment of PTDS cases.
“Our study illustrates the complex interplay between specific military exposures, mental health, and subsequent post-deployment well-being between the genders,” said lead author Brian Smith, Ph.D. of the Boston University School of Medicine.
There is ample research being done in how veterans respond to deployment-related mental health and stress issues, but the Boston University study is one of the first to deal specifically with gender as a primary variable.
The survey consists of two parts. In the first part, 522 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans completed a survey two years after their military experience and answered questions about their military experience as well as questions about their mental health.
Three years later another survey is completed, which includes questions about parenting, romantic life, and readjusting to civilian society. The researchers found that the stressors looked for regarding deployment such as sexual harassment or battle exposure were factors in how well the person gauges their mental health and their work and family relationships. Researchers also found indirect links to how the person functions dependent on factors during deployment.
The researchers found that the genders acted on and responded to these stressors differently. For example, researchers found that depression was much more likely to occur in female veterans compared to PTSD. Researchers also found that family stressors during deployment were more subsequently directly related to parental issues in females as well.
There were similarities between the genders. During the survey, researchers found comparable results in how PTSD-effected veterans handled parenting and researchers found a strong link between depression and life satisfaction among both genders.
The researchers plan to use the surveys to help better treat deployment-related stressors in the different genders. “This understanding of risk for reduced well-being, including the role of gender differences, may provide further important insight as to how to best cater post-military services to veterans’ unique needs following military service,” Smith added about the research.