Does PTSD worsen with age?

Many older Veterans find they have PTSD symptoms even 50 or more years after their military experience. Some symptoms of PTSD include having nightmares or feeling like you are reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, being easily startled, and loss of interest in activities.

Changes that come with aging can make you feel more vulnerable, and this can make your PTSD symptoms more noticeable.

Strategies that once seemed to help you avoid thinking about the trauma, like long hours spent at work or self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, may no longer work. Even positive coping strategies, like exercising or friendships with supportive peers, can be more difficult to maintain as you get older.

For an overview of PTSD and aging, including examples of how aging can affect PTSD, download the Understanding PTSD and Aging booklet. English | en Español (PDF)

To learn more about strategies you can use to help cope with PTSD symptoms, read the Vantage Point blog: VA taking on the challenges of aging with PTSD.

Read the Vantage Point Article on Aging


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