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Postpartum Mood Disorders

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after Childbirth

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post partum depression woman

When we think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we think of a war veteran who witnessed unspeakable acts or catastrophic events such as September 11th. What we don't think of are women who have given birth.

For approximately 7% of women, the birth experience itself is so traumatic, that they now suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After Childbirth. Sadly, this disorder is one that cannot be fixed by squeezing a few stress balls, sometimes taking the help of a therapist is necessary to get relief. This is only one of the less common but certainly more serious of the postpartum mood disorders. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After Childbirth. This is only one of the less common but certainly more serious of the postpartum mood disorders. Others include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) After Childbirth and Panic Disorder (or Anxiety Disorder) After Childbirth.

Unlike women who have experienced these types of disorders, the onset or beginning of symptoms in this case, doesn't start until after giving birth.

There are 2 common features of childbirth that make it potentially traumatizing: extreme pain and a sense of loss of control. For example, if the medical staff does not honor the mother's right to privacy by appropriately covering her or by allowing other unknown people into the delivery room such as students. These types of events could result in emotional trauma. There are also more obvious forms of trauma. These could include anesthesia not being delivered effectively during a cesarean section or the death of the baby.

What is also important to understand is that it is the mother's perception of what is defined to her as traumatic.

sadness after giving birthSigns/Symptoms PTSD After Childbirth:

The person has experienced an event, which they perceive as traumatic;

Flashbacks of the event occur (sudden and vivid memories);

Nightmares of the event;

Inability to recall an important aspect of the event - psychgenic amnesia;

Exaggerated startle response, constantly on edge;

Hyper-arousal, always on guard;

Hyper-vigilant, constantly looking around for trouble or stressors;

Avoidance of all reminders of the traumatic event;

Intense psychological stress at exposure to events that resemble the traumatic event;

Physiological reactivity on exposure to events resembling the traumatic event - panic attacks, sweating, palpitations;

Fantasies of retaliation;

Cynicism and distrust of authority figures and public institutions;

Hypersensitivity to injustice

Masking Symptoms:

Many times, symptoms of PTSD After Childbirth are masked by other symptoms such as Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Eating Disorders, Compulsive Gambling or Compulsive Spending, Psychosomatic Problems, Homicidal, Suicidal or Self-Mutilating Behaviors, Phobias, Panic Disorders, Depression of depressive symptoms, Dissociation Symptoms, Fainting Spells, or Psychotic Episodes.

Research Study:

Dr. Cheryl Beck, Researcher and Professor at the University of Connecticut's School of Nursing.

Getting Help:

If you or someone you love is experiencing the above symptoms, get help immediately. This type of condition doesn't get better on its own. Go to your local Emergency Room or call your physician.

More support can be found online at Postpartum.org.



Robyn's Nest Related Articles
The Baby Blues (Postpartum Depression)
Postpartum Depressive Disorders
Postpartum Support Groups (state by state)
Health and Safety Links


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