Childbirth-Associated PTSD and Postpartum Melancholy Generally Happen Collectively

Publish-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD) is frequent amongst girls of child-bearing age.  Whereas we’re more and more attentive to screening for depressive signs throughout being pregnant and after supply, much less typically can we inquire about PTSD signs.  Childbirth-related PTSD (CB-PTSD) could also be precipitated by a anxious or traumatic childbirth expertise.  Of word, childbirth-related PTSD will not be restricted to stillbirth or to deliveries related to toddler medical problems; in truth, as many as 25% of girls expertise CB-PTSD signs after giving beginning to a wholesome full-term child (Dekel et al, 2017).

Depressive signs typically co-occur with PTSD, and in non-postpartum samples comorbidity has been related to better symptom burden, practical impairment, and worse response to remedy.  To higher perceive the connection between PTSD and despair throughout the postpartum interval, Sharon Dekel, PhD and colleagues studied a bunch of 685 postpartum girls, together with girls reporting PTSD and postpartum depressive signs. 

On this examine, girls who had given beginning to a reside child within the earlier 6 months have been recruited by means of bulletins on postpartum web sites.  Contributors have been on common 31 years of age (SD = 4.80).  The bulk (93%) have been married or lived with a home companion (6% single and 1% divorced/separated), had not less than a school stage training (71%, which amongst them a 3rd had graduate stage training), and have been center class.

On the time of examine entry, girls have been on common three months postpartum (between 1 day postpartum and 6 months postpartum, with 12% lower than 1 month postpartum).  A lot of the individuals (n=541, 79%) had a full-term supply of a wholesome child; 144 (21%) had a preterm supply, which most often (84%) resulted within the new child being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

PTSD signs associated to the childbirth expertise have been recognized utilizing the PTSD guidelines for DSM-5 (PCL-5).  Normal misery following childbirth was measured utilizing the Transient Symptom Stock (BSI) which assesses 53 psychiatric signs (e.g., despair, obsessive compulsive, panic) and provides a world symptom severity index (GSI) rating. Peritraumatic (acute) reactions to childbirth have been assessed utilizing the Peritraumatic Misery Stock (PDI) and the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire (PDEQ).


On this group of girls 18% (n = 122) of the ladies have been recognized as having possible CB-PTSD and one other 14 girls reported acute traumatic stress. Of these with CB-PTSD or acute stress, 19% (26 out of 136) reported PTSD signs earlier than childbirth. Elevated depressive signs have been noticed in 57% (n = 391) of the full pattern.  Of these with postpartum despair, 33% (130 out of 391) reported depressive signs earlier than childbirth.

The prevalence of comorbidity was excessive; 90% (123 out of 136) of these categorized with CB-PTSD additionally skilled elevated postpartum depressive signs, whereas a 3rd (123 out of 391) of these categorized with postpartum despair had additionally skilled CB-PTSD.  The probability for CB-PTSD and despair comorbidity was increased if the mom was youthful, had pre-childbirth psychological well being issues, had skilled an extended period of childbirth, and had an emergency cesarean part.

The Backside Line

Whereas this examine doesn’t yield data relating to the prevalence of childbirth-related PTSD, earlier research point out that clinically vital PP-PTSD signs have been recognized in as much as 16.8% of girls in group samples. This examine contributes to our understanding of childbirth-related PTSD with the next findings:

  • PTSD generally co-occurs with depressive signs, with 90% on this examine reporting each.
  • A few third of the ladies with postpartum despair additionally had CB-PTSD
  • Danger elements for morbidity included youthful maternal age, psychological well being issues earlier than being pregnant, longer period of childbirth, and emergency cesarean part

Presently it is strongly recommended that each one postpartum girls needs to be screened for postpartum despair.  Given the excessive diploma of comorbidity of PTSD and despair on this setting, it’s seemingly that girls with PTSD might be captured utilizing commonplace despair screening.  Nonetheless, remedies focusing on solely despair might not handle childbirth-related PTSD signs, an element which can finally negatively impression remedy outcomes.  

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Learn Extra:

Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Dishy GA, Mayopoulos PA.  Past postpartum despair: posttraumatic stress-depressive response following childbirth.  Arch Womens Ment Well being. 2020 Aug;23(4):557-564.

Dekel S, Stuebe C, Dishy G.  Childbirth Induced Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome: A Systematic Evaluate of Prevalence and Danger Elements. Entrance Psychol. 2017 Apr 11;8:560. 

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