Statistics - Identifying the Signs of Postnatal PTSD
6% of Australian women suffer PTSD after giving birth

Identifying the Signs of Postnatal PTSD


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6% of Australian women suffer PTSD after giving birth

The above percentage of Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers equates to nearly 20,000 women a year in Australia. PTSD is a debilitating condition that creates anxiety, flashbacks, trauma and disconnection. Often a traumatic birth experience, such as loss of control during labour or unrealistic expectations, can lead to PTSD.

Many women suffering PTSD go undiagnosed, often mistaking symptoms as 'normal' or ignoring them in order to get on with the demands of new motherhood. Without treatment, the effects of PTSD will eventually impact on relationships with their partner and child, creating stress and disconnection. While individuals will experience PTSD differently, some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event – which in this case may have been the childbirth itself
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoidance of stimuli associated with the event – including thoughts, feelings, people, places and details of the event
  • Persistently increased arousal – including irritability, difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Feeling a sense of unreality and detachment

Postpartum PTSD is temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from this illness, seek help and know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.

*Source: Alcorn KL et al. A prospective longitudinal study of the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from childbirth events. Psychological Medicine 2010; 50: 1849-1859. 

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