Incidence and Prevalence of PTSD

Lifetime prevalence of PTSD is at least 1 percent and may be as high as 15 percent in the general U.S. population. A National Comorbidity Survey conducted in the early 1990s found that women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD. In high-risk groups, such as combat veterans and victims of violent crimes, prevalence ranges from 3 to 58 percent.

PTSD is more prevalent among war veterans than among any other group. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey reports that approximately 25 percent of U.S. veterans, men and women, were suffering from PTSD in the early 1990s. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects approximately:

  • 31 percent of Vietnam veterans
  • 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
  • 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)
  • 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans

Men with PTSD identify combat and witnessing someone else's injury or death most often as the cause. Women identify physical attack or threat most often as the cause for the disorder.

Posttraumatic stress disorder increases the risk for other mental health disorders, including panic disorder, phobias, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

PTSD is common in countries where long-term war, widespread social upheaval, and frequent natural disasters are prevalent.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Feb 2001

Last Modified: 13 Feb 2015