Lady Gaga Just Addressed a Big Misconception About PTSD

December 5th 2016

Laura Donovan

On Monday, Lady Gaga revealed on the TODAY show that she suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being sexually assaulted. The singer has spoken before about her assault and she been an advocate for survivors.

In a segment for the show's #ShareKindness campaign, Lady Gaga visited an LGBT youth homeless center and told the group of teens dealing with mental health issues that she has mental health issues of her own.

“I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness,” she said on TODAY. “I suffer from PTSD. I’ve never told anyone that before, so here we are.”

The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as "a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it." PTSD is often associated with veterans — up to 20 percent of every 100 veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD.

But veterans aren't the only people who suffer from PTSD.

"Anyone can develop PTSD at any age," the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states on its website. "This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and genes may make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others."

Dr. Farris K. Tuma, program chief of the Traumatic Stress Research Program at the NIMH, told ATTN: writer Rebecca Hiscott in December 2015 that PTSD symptoms fall into several clusters. These include reliving the trauma through flashbacks, bad thoughts, or dreams, feeling jumpy in one's environment, avoiding thoughts about the traumatic event, and experiencing substance or alcohol abuse. Dr. Tuma said people with a history abuse, substance abuse, or mental health issues may be more likely to experience PTSD.

Lady Gaga told Howard Stern in December 2014 that her 2013 song "Swine" was about experiencing sexual assault at age 19.

"It didn't affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later," she said to Stern. "It hit me so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I was like, 'Just keep going,' because I just had to get out of there."

In June 2015, Lady Gaga teamed up with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to write a Billboard.com piece on the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. Lady Gage performed "Til It Happens to You," her song about sexual assault that was made for the documentary "The Hunting Ground," at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. "Til It Happens to You" was nominated for Best Original Song at the ceremony.

Watch Lady Gaga's interview with TODAY below:

Update 12/5/2016 at 2:12 p.m. PT: an earlier version of this story misstated that "Til It Happens To You" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was nominated for the award but did not win.