Traumatized: post-partum post traumatic stress disorder

The study that was conducted in this article was to recognize the prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder in post partum women. It is understood that in a period of about 4-6 months after childbirth, women may begin to experience symptoms of depression, that is linked with the hormonal and drastic environmental changes associated with bringing home a new baby. Recent research has questioned however, whether it is not only depression that these women are developing, but possible a form of post traumatic stress disorder following events involved during childbirth. This study looks to support this theory. Symptoms that are characteristic of PTSD are “persistent re-experiencing of the event, avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event, numbing of general responsiveness and symptoms of increased arousal” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). It has been seen that many women have had these symptoms following childbirth. The sample used was 102 women that anonymously completed and returned a questionnaire regarding the history and events of childbirth, as well as their current feelings and experiences on the topic. The method used to obtain the data was comparing the information given on the perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder questionnaire, to a screening of several evaluation tools: a history of traumatic events, a post traumatic stress disorder check list, a postnatal depression questionnaire, and a questionnaire on the perceptions of labor and delivery. What was found was that there were a significant number of differences in the results of women that experienced symptoms of PTSD and their childbirth experience. These women reported higher levels of distress during labor, with a greater fear of losing control and not being prepared, as well as higher levels of interventions by the obstetrician. Interestingly, there was no specific correlation with women experiencing PTSD symptoms and who had previously experienced a traumatic event. This article is very pertinent to nursing in labor and delivery, because as the nurses, we are supposed to be the rock that the woman can depend on as a source of support during childbirth. This study shows that labor is a very big experience to a woman, and without appropriate support and interventions, it is possible that women could suffer a range of psychological responses. This article also suggests the high rate of undetected PTSD in women, because it is not an expected finding. Reading this article, there are ways provided to detect PTSD in women, so it is not mistaken for postpartum depression, and does not go undetected, so that we can treat and help these women to the full capacity. References American Psychiatric Association (1987 and 1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (3rd and 4th edns). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Leeds L, Hargreaves I; The psychological consequences of childbirth, Journal of reproductive and infant psychology (2008) 26(2): 108-22

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3 thoughts on “Traumatized: post-partum post traumatic stress disorder

  1. According to a pilot study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring, veterans with high levels of PTSD saw their PTSD levels drop to within normal limits after treatment. They reported that combat memories that had previously haunted them, including graphic details of deaths, mutilations, and firefights, dropped in intensity to the point where they no longer resulted in flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD. The study involved veterans from Vietnam, as well as more recent conflicts. `

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