How can the experience of Military Sexual Trauma impact an individual?

MST is an experience, not a diagnosis or a mental health condition, and as siwht other traumatic experiences, there are many reactions that Veterans cna have in response to MST. The type, severity, and length of a Veteran's difficulties will all depend on factors like whether he/she has a past history of trauma, the types of responses from others he/she received at the time of the MST, and whether the MST happened once or was repeated over time. Although the reactions men and women have to MST are similar in someways, they may also struggle with different issues. Race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and toher cultureal factorsx cna also affect the impact of MST.

Many individuals recover from MST or other trauma without professional help; others may continue to experience a low level of difficulties or have strong reactions only in certain situations.  For some Veterans, the experience of MST may continue to affect their mental and physical health in significant ways, even many years later. Some of the common experiences that survivors of MST may have include: strong emotions, feelings of numbness, trouble sleeping, difficulties with attention/concentration/memory, problems with alcohol or other substances, difficulty with things that remind them of their experience, difficulties in relationships, and physical health problems.

Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with MST, it is not the only diagnosis that can result from MST. In fact, the diagnoses most often associated with MST among users of VA health care, aside from PTSD, are depression, mood disorders, and substance use disorders.

Fortunately, people can recover from experrriences of trauma, and VA has effective services to help Veterans do this.