All about PTSD: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments.

Including Post Partum Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & flashbacks.

Moderators: tgger007, teddi, Schatje

All about PTSD: Signs, Symptoms and Treatments.

Postby teddi » Feb 07, 2007 1:37 am

I wanted to keep this in a place where moms can find it as it comes up pretty frequently on our boards. Please feel free to add your personal experience, and treatments that did or didn't work for you.

These are taken from the

Their sign/symptoms I will put in bold. I'll expand to try to give more info underneath.

These symptoms should alert you to possible PTSD:
Experienced an event perceived by the person experiencing it as traumatic

Pretty self explanatory. If you were to describe your experience with HG you may even struggle to get the words out of your mouth. You would probably describe it as "it was traumatic".

Flashbacks of the event, vivid & sudden memories

You may be somewhere or with someone or hear something or smell something and sudden you will have a strong, intense memory couple with an axiety reaction. It might be mild or more severe. It could be anything that your brain attaches to the fear of the experience you had (like being at the same hospital, etc).

Nightmares of the event

Inability to recall an important aspect of the event - psychogenic amnesia

In addition to complete amnesia, things may also be "fuzzy" in your memory, where just bits and pieces are missing.

Exaggerated startle response, constantly living on edge

You may fear illness alot more. It may even cause anxiety (like fear of NVP) or pregnancy (like seeing other pregnant bellies) or sex. More than that though- you may see or feel danger where you didn't before. I'll use some personal examples- when in the thick of PTSD, I would have visions of a catastrophic accident happening while driving. I still get very very upset when I see an accident. It's a physical fear or anxiety that arises. In general, before the PTSD I had normal fears and such. I felt fragile and exposed- like at any moment something bad could happen (not just to me either, my daughters too).

Hyper-arousal, always on guard

Related to above. It might also again be an intense almost paranoid (though I might say for HGers that's normal) fear of sex, pregnancy, doctors, needles. The point is though- while a lot of people may fear those things- BEFORE the trauma event these weren't normal FOR YOU, and now these fears are present.

Hyper-vigilant, constantly looking around for trouble or stressors

same as above.

Avoidance of all reminders of the traumatic event

Maybe you do things like- not go shopping in the baby section, not schedule normal Doctor appointments, not drive down the street that takes you to the hospital, not eat certain food or avoid certain smells.

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

Remembering the events, connecting with those memories from the HG is very very difficult. It's not like just another "bad memory". It's like a monkey on your back that you can't get rid of.

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

Fantasies of retaliation

Perhaps involving doctors, nurses, or loved ones who let you down.

Cynicism and distrust of authority figures and public institutions

In this case, perhaps your spouse, but probably mostly Doctors or medical professionals.

The key thing with post traumatic stress is that, without treatment it doesn't resolve on it's own. The trauma that caused it is too intense or strong for the brain to "work thru" on it's own. It is NOT depression but can CAUSE depression. It usually does involve anxiety, whether it is low level or the more intense "panic attacks".

There are a lot of treatment methods for Post Traumatic Stress. There is very conflicting evidence as to whether PTSD reacts to depression medications. They may be helpful in controlling depression, but those drugs aren't designed to address the underlying trauma. Talk therapy, journalling are frequent courses of treatment. There is also hyponsis and or EMDR therapy. There are other cognitive behavior therapies. The vasty majority of PTSD does respond to treatment. Not *all* does completely resolve (I've seen estimates that say about 5% of folks will continue with the PTSD their whole life).

There will usually be a "short" (as in days to week or maybe months) of a numb period where your brain is essentially in shock, then after that perios is when symptoms begin to unfold.

If you want further info, you can PM me. I suggest checking out the website. Although they deal with PTSD from a traumatic BIRTH, they are least are coming from the frame of mind of a mom with a baby. If you google, a lot of PTSD info you'll find is about war vets (because the govt. had funded that research and treatment programs). That's pretty different that having a traumatic pregnancy or birth, though the physchological effects are similar.

My personal experience:
The PTSD can be very disabling. I ended up on a mental health disability after my twins were 6 months old from it. At first, for days and weeks and then months, I was really in shock and did not believe what happened actually happened (I had birth trauma with the twins and also some issues that trigger back to my pregnancy). Then it became all I could think about (another possible symptom is CONTINUAL ruminating on the incident/truama where you can't GET IT OUT of your head). It was like a video tape playing over and over and over. It was the ONE thing for me I thought about, even though I tried not to (this faded as time went on for me and that's when the triggers/flashbacks started).

As my babies were the result of the traumatic event, my mind really didn't accept they were my babies. I KNEW it mentally but it didnt' connect on any kind of emotional level.

I did do EMDR therapy, I was on 3 different anti-depressants which weren't helpful for the PTSD itself. For me the medications didnt' stop the anxiety (I did not use anxiety medication though). I had side effects from the meds and eventually I decided that they just weren't helpful and discontinued them. By this time the depression was IMPROVED though. If you are dealing with the triple threat (PTSD, depression, and anxiety), you may need to seriously consider medications.

I also did an "IOP" intensive outpatient program. I went three days a week 5-6 hours a day in group therapy. It was the step below inpatient hospitalization. It was very hard to do, but it was helpful. It was NOT a PTSD program, moreso a depression group. A group PTSD session would have been much more helpful I think.

The EMDR is similar to but not the same as hypnosis. It involves starting with a traumatic memory and doing a series of eye movements while you talk thru your memories/feelings. You may bounce around alot from directly experiences that relate to the truama to things that seem completely unrelated. The idea behind EMDR is that the brain is blocked from processing the truama. Like it puts up a wall to block out the bad memor(ies). However, while that was initially a protecting response, afterwards it becomes dysfunctional.

For instance, I really had major anxiety the first many months (well actually over a year) just going to the hospital where my care was at. I worked in a medical clinic and I had MAJOR anger directed at doctors in general and being that my "bosses" were Doctors, I wanted to just yell at them and demand answer (for care which they had NOTHING to do with). Also at work, I had to deal with newborns as we did pediatrics. Newborns were (still are) a particular trigger for me. I would get panicky and want to run away and cry (and did a few times). When my babies were first born , for whatever reason, shopping was hard. I felt exposed and I don't know why really. Obviously if I had the babies with me I was a magnet for attention and for questions that were waaay to painful to deal with, but I felt completely anxious. At about 8 months later, I was having mild panic attacks, and constant anxiety. I felt like "I was going crazy". I would sit and be unable to do even the most basic things, I felt frozen.

It may be very hard to find a therapist/mental health pro with experience in pregnancy related PTSD, they are hard to find but they are out there. If you find the WRONG person, they may belittle what you went thru or NOT even accept a diagnosis of PTSD for "puking" while pregnant. If you do seek professional help (which I strongly encourage you to do), if the first person you see isn't helpful keep looking.
Last edited by teddi on Feb 07, 2007 2:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
Bert , 3/2000 HG#1, wk 6 - birth, GB removed @ 16wks
Chloe & Kaylie, 12/2004 HG #2, wk 7 - birth, pre-E/pancreatitis
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Postby peanut » Feb 07, 2007 1:46 am

I am on disability for PTSD and depression stemming from a rape, but I found that anti-psychotic med seroquel helped with the nightmares and flashbacks (I had disassociated flashback - where I did not know where I was - I relived the experience again). It is really important to stress how the symptoms are affecting your life to your therapist. I tried to put on a brave face and some of the therapists ignored some of my symptoms (Like curling up in a ball outside the therapy group room and crying and screaming were normal :roll: , the person who came to check on me was a fellow patient - even though she said that everybody in the room could hear me). I only was put on risperadol (and later switched to the seroquel) because I tried to kill myself after a bad flashback because I couldn't take it anymore.

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Postby krdoty » Jun 14, 2007 12:47 am

The following link is for a printable PPD quiz that I found helpful.
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Postby IslandDreamer » Jul 31, 2007 9:03 pm

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