Does PTSD Get Worse with Age? PTSD Monthly Update - February 2020

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PTSD Monthly Update - News Relevant to the Issues of Trauma and PTSD

February 2020


Aging and PTSD: A man facing the camera and a quote about how he overcame his PTSD.

Does PTSD Get Worse 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. Englishen 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

For Providers


PTSD Consultation Program

Treating Veterans with PTSD? We can help.

Any healthcare provider treating Veterans can ask our expert clinicians a question.  Meet our consultants and get started.

PTSD Monthly Lecture Series

March 18, 2020 at 2 ET:  Massed Treatment for Veterans with PTSD, Cynthia Yamokoski, PhD

  • Mark your calendar for the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 2pm ET
  • Subscribe to monthly emails to find out how to join live lectures.
  • Registration is required to receive free continuing education credit for attending the live lecture.

Resources of the Month

  • PTSD and Aging (PDF): Topic for the PTSD Research Quarterly RQ Vol. 30(4), 2019 by Lewina Lee, PhD
  • Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms among Older Adults: A Review: Demographic patterns across the globe are changing, and older people constitute a growing proportion of the population. Although many older adults enjoy well-being and satisfaction in later years, some experience psychiatric and mental health difficulties.

Free Patient Educational Materials

Our educational flyers, handouts, brochures and other print materials can be used to help educate patients and family members about PTSD. Also, a growing number of our materials are now available in Spanish. You can now order our print materials for free, including the new Understanding PTSD and Aging booklet, from the US Government Publishing Office.


Research at the Center

Accelerating Aging in Vietnam-era Veterans

National Center for PTSD researchers are working with male and female Vietnam veterans to examine changes in physical and mental health status (including PTSD) over time, as a function of demographics and deployment characteristics among male and female Vietnam Veterans.

PTSD in the News

Military Movies Can Show PTSD Battles

Military movies can often remind Veterans of their service. They can also bring up painful memories of the past. Dr. Paula Schnurr, Executive Director, was interviewed about how this can affect Veterans, many years after their service. Read more

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Thank you,

The Staff of VA’s National Center for PTSD

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