Research recently conducted by Elizabeth Neilson of Morehead University found that certain masculine traits may contribute to the development of more severe symptoms of PTSD. The research specifically identified that personality traits such as self-reliance, stoicism and emotional control are encouraged during military training. These traits are an asset, as they help military members perform confidently in the field and could prove to be life-saving.
However, these same traits—which can be found in both men and women—can intensify the symptoms of PTSD, especially in military veterans.
Dr. Neilson’s team analyzed 17 studies over 25 years that included more than 3,500 military veterans. What Neilson found was that exposure to physical and mental trauma can cause a sense of loss of power, which conflicts with traditionally masculine traits. Due to the disparity in how these veterans are supposed to react versus how they feel, the symptoms of PTSD become more intense.
The research also indicated that these traits make it more difficult to treat PTSD in veterans. This is most likely due to the fact that these veterans take pride in being self-reliant, and oftentimes believe that they can handle their trauma independently. As a result, most will not seek out PTSD treatment. For those that do seek treatment, they often struggle as well because they are reluctant to talk about their emotions, holding on to their emotional stoicism and mental fortitude.
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