Lecture – PTSD and Women’s Health – Life Course Burden With and Across Generations

Available with English captions.

Karestan C. Koenen, PhD, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health – Visiting Scholars Series

This lecture provides an overview of effects of trauma on women’s physical and mental health.

Dr. Koenen explains how trauma disproportionately impacts women. She reveals the enduring impact of trauma throughout women’s lifetime and even across generations. The lecture also includes a review of epidemiology of trauma exposure and empirically supported treatments for PTSD.

There are many mechanisms via which trauma/PTSD impacts women’s health over the life course. Dr. Koenen highlights research on how women that experienced trauma have more inflammation. They are also at greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, lupus. In addition, there is evidence that PTSD can make accelerate aging.

Dr. Koenen reviews effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD and trauma symptoms. These treatments involved a combination of skill training in affective regulation and prolonged exposure (STAIR/PE). Prolonged exposure is a cognitive behavioral therapy approach in which trauma patients gradually narrate and re-imagine the traumatic experience.

The lecture also includes a discussion of the intergenerational effects of trauma. Research suggests that children whose mothers were exposed to trauma have more health problems.