Studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) employing DSM-III-R criteria estimate that 5-6% of men and 10-14% of women suffer from this chronic, debilitating illness at some time in their lives. Projections based on the more recent DSM-IV yield slightly higher lifetime estimates – 6.2% of men and 13% of women. This same literature reveals that traumatic events – the etiological stressor central to the diagnosis of PTSD -- are not random, vary in frequency across population subgroups, and are related to the conditional risk for this disorder. Given the stressful social, physical environments in which many American Indians live, and the high levels of trauma to which they are consequently exposed, it should not be surprising that PTSD is especially prevalent among them, reaching rates equal to or greater than their counterparts in the general population.
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