People suffering from mental health problems are much more likely to have experienced traumatic stress during their lives. More than 40% of adults receiving psychiatric care have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to only 7% of the rest of the population. PTSD can increase the severity of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and cause an increased likelihood of problems with agitation, impulse control, social isolation and substance misuse. A study of 35 women receiving community mental health services for severe and chronic mental illness in the U.S. found that 98% of them had suffered exposure to multiple traumatic stressors and more than half had suffered from PTSD at some point during their lives with 44% of the sample suffering from PTSD at the time of the study. Current PTSD prevalence was highest when traumatic loss, sexual abuse, physical abuse, traumatic assault or community violence were reported. A history of childhood sexual abuse, or PTSD, or both was associated with use of multiple substances and complex psychosocial problems.
Ford, Julian D. and Fournier, Debra - Psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder among women in community mental health aftercare following psychiatric intensive care Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care June 2007 3(1), 27-34