Summary of main findings from epidemiological studies

• The majority of people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.

• In assessing PTSD history, interviewers should probe for specific events.

• Assault, in particular sexual assault, and combat have a higher impact than accidents and disasters. (3,32)

• If the frequency and impact of traumatic events are considered together, sudden unexpected death of a loved one (33) and road traffic accidents(8) can be considered important causes of PTSD in Western industrialized societies.

• Men tend to experience more traumatic events than women, but women experience higher impact events.(3l32)

• Women are at least twice as likely to develop PTSD in response to a traumatic event than men. This enhanced risk is not explained by differences in the type of traumatic event. The estimated lifetime prevalence for women is approximately 10 to 12 per cent, and for men 5 to 6 per cent. (9,3l,38,,39>

• Comorbid depression and substance-use disorders appear to be secondary to PTSD in the majority of cases.

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