Postpartum PTSD Is As Common As Postpartum Depression

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postpartum depressionAnywhere from 7-16% of new moms experience some level of postpartum PTSD, or postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health, which reviewed a study by McGill University. This study found that risk factors for postpartum PTSD include a history of sexual trauma, higher sensitivity to anxiety or a more negative childbirth experience than expected. A previous study reviewed by MGH found that risk factors for postpartum PTSD included a history of infertility and obstetric complications.

MGH also takes a look at the conflicting studies on the use of antidepressants during pregnancy, concluding, “What we can say at this point is that while SSRIs may affect certain neonatal outcomes, including risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight, they do not appear to dramatically increase the risk of these adverse outcomes.” Studies have also shown that depression during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm delivery. So we’re still stuck in a “chicken or the” egg scenario, ladies.


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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's

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  1. This is probably a ridiculous statement of the obvious but I really wish more medical professionals were educated about PPMD’s. There aren’t enough who are good and knowledgeable about PPD alone, much less PPPTSD, PPOCD, etc. When I look back at my own fight with PPD, I’m positive that I was also dealing with PPPTSD and PPOCD. A good bit of what I thought were “thoughts of hurting my baby” were actually intrusive thoughts and behaviors that fell perfectly in line with PPOCD, such as being so worried about dropping her on the stairs that I avoided the stairs if I was carrying her. There’s no question that my birth was extremely traumatic to me, both physically and emotionally.

    I can’t help but wonder how my treatment might have been different and potentially even more effective if I had had access to a doctor who knew about other PPMD.

  2. Thanks for posting regarding the incidence of PTSD (onset childbirth). EMDR is an effective way to treat trauma, altho it is not for everyone…PPD (depression) is also co-morbid to PTSD (onset childbirth)..I think there is alot of co-morbid depression to PTSD (onset childbirth) in the first year after birth…I see alot of it in my private practice…keep up the good work! take care, Kathy

  3. I’m lucky to have a psychiatrist who, it’s just how it worked out for him, sees primarily pregnant women and soldiers and other people with PTSD…I am on medications but no SSRIs. I tried to contact teratological clinics to lrovide a case to add to their files since I was on these medications at conception and will deliver on them.but so far no one is interested. I don’t know if it is because my meds are older and studied enough or what! But they have been deemed safer than SSRIs and so it would be good if doctors were more aware not only of the mental conditions that arise during pregnancy but also had a better understanding of older medications as well as the newer ones.