birth trauma, postnatalPTSD.. links ... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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birth trauma, postnatalPTSD.. links to PPP

guinea1 profile image

I had PP 27 years ago , back in the day understanding and treatment was very poor.i have just finished 6 monthsof therapy, due to PTSD which has stemmed from the birth, plus general psychiatric hospital treatment which was very non existent and they have put it down in my diagnosis now as abuse.... what i am thinkingabout now, as was reading about post natal PTSD and the symptoms are very much what I went through after the psychosis... Has anyone else been diagnosed with birth trauma or post natal PTSD ..is there a connection to PPP.. I am guessing birth trauma and PTSD is a more resent diagnosis in mothers with new research.. but it has me thinking to a way of a little understanding to why out of the blue I became so seriously unwell.i know I can't change the past. .but it would help me to understand things a little better. Or does PTSD overlap with ppp?

Would be interested to hear anyones views , thanks for reading

8 Replies

Hello guinea1,

I hope you’re doing ok. Thank you for posting and asking about this, it will be interesting to see what other people’s experiences have been.

I’m not sure about potential links/overlaps between PP and PTSD, though I always think of postnatal mental illness as being a spectrum and it does seem there can be a lot of overlap in symptoms but certain features (and how symptoms respond to what treatment) perhaps then inform the diagnosis/diagnoses that is/are reached?

In terms of links between trauma and PP - according to the research, birth trauma and previous trauma don't appear to be causal factors of PP alone, but could play a part in it - although we definitely need more research. We know there are women who have previous trauma or birth trauma who go on to develop PP, but also those who do not have previous trauma or birth trauma that go on to develop PP - so it is hard to say if it’s a causal factor, or if it perhaps could be for one person but not the next.

This is different to other perinatal mental illness. Research does show there can be a link between previous trauma and PND, and PTSD is of course very much linked to trauma.

I do hope the therapy you’ve been accessing has been helpful. It’s so normal to want to find answers and understand why these things happen, I hope sharing experiences and continuing to research these areas all helps with your ongoing journey.

Best wishes,

Jenny

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Jenny_at_APP

Thanks JennyI have had 6 months of therapy, it has definitely helped and I have gained a few helpful tools to work with that I so badly needed, plus been allowed to explore all the mixed emotions which have been bubbling away for many years, plus I have gained some trust with mental health professionals which was the biggest hurdle I needed to get over.. I still have my mental health care coordinator..so not completely on my own.. though obviously little appreciation in where I am going next on this journey.

I know I will never find complete answers and many years have gone by, though it all feels like only months ago for now, most probably because I shut it in the cupboard for so long... but one thing I have learnt is it is never too late to ask for help.. and to look for answers..

if I hadn't started looking for answers I would never have found here and the knowledge I was never alone.. because being told this is rare made me feel alone back then.. it also changed my view about 1 in 1000 as when you have been that 1 in kind of makes you feel more vulnerable in more ways than one.. maybe this is normal to feel or just me?

I feel there is so much that needs to be researched, but also so much hope for the future.. I really think they need to look at how mums are affected by general psychiatric hospitals as this has definitely caused the PTSD now and gave me the fear to ask for help in the future.. luckily I had a wonderful GP who's dedicated support helped me through the journey of finding the correct path in my own time at my pace, the therapist I just had also did the same, this gentleness helped for when I needed to challenge coming out of my safe place.

I am going to have a look at birth trauma and postnatal PTSD just to get an understanding as I think will help, PP is difficult to understand and one thing that I do find confusing is how do they differential between having PP and going onto depression as I was diagnosed.. is it the episode of the manic delusion side that is pp and when that stops it is depression or is the whole time PP?

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPPartner in reply to guinea1

Hi guinea1

I’m so glad you have managed to get support and have had some helpful therapy. And also found us along the way too.

You ask some good questions about the overlaps between pp and ptsd , birth trauma, postnatal depression.

I’ve been peer supporting for APP for several years now and I’ve heard many peoples stories. I find that each persons possible causes of pp are all individual and different, though with a lot of things in common often, and that some people definitely feel that birth trauma was a contributing factor in becoming unwell.

For others though I have heard of stories of straightforward / positive birth experiences and they have still become unwell, I think it’s always a bit of a combination of several things (genetics, hormones etc playing a part too).

In terms of ptsd , I think definitely a lot of us experience trauma , if not from birth but from the psychosis itself, and then experience ptsd symptoms as a result, and trauma therapy can be really helpful.

And a lot of us experience clinical depression after the psychosis, though not everyone. This was my experience. I felt it was part of the illness (after experiencing mania / high, it can be natural to experience a low after) but also for me I felt it was a reaction to the trauma of what happened. I experienced a lot of anxiety around relapse etc, mixed in with depression for example.

I hope some of my thoughts and anecdotal experiences are helpful to increase your understanding of what happened, and of pp.

Sadly I don’t think any of us can ever find the definite answer as to what caused our illness etc, I guess it has helped me just to talk / write here about my experiences, to make sense of it and to not feel alone. This was and is definitely one of the biggest things that’s helped me in my full emotional recovery.

Take care, and I’m so glad you’ve found this community,

Ellie x

Jenny_at_APP profile image
Jenny_at_APPPartner in reply to guinea1

Hi guinea1

Thank you for your reply. I don’t think I can add much to what Ellie has said, but I’m also really glad you found us – finding you’re not alone makes such a massive difference.

In terms of PP and depression, as Ellie has said a lot of people go on to experience depression following PP. Feeling depressed, low or anxious can also be symptoms women experience as part of PP, which can include both low and high mood. The depression that can follow the psychotic episode can be a reaction to the trauma, due to the disruption to brain chemistry following psychosis or mania, or I’m sure as a result of other factors too, our experiences are all so different – definitely linked but I guess with symptoms that might need different or additional treatment. I was lucky in not going on to suffer depression after my psychosis, it seems so unfair to be hit with this after getting through the initial psychosis. You’re right though, it’s so important to seek help and it’s never too late to do so.

Take good care, I’m so glad your recent therapy has brought so many positives.

Best wishes,

Jenny x

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Jenny_at_APP

Thank you for your reply, I think being told it was rare made things very isolating.. to the whole family.. the trauma of going to the psychiatric hospital caused the most trauma to all of us.. plus the fact family had to get me out of there as the could see what was happening in my treatment and the lack of care... so I had and still have nothing positive about that experience.. the next clinic I went to with baby, the treatment was so different it didn't seem true , but they helped me bond with baby and regain my confidence.. I think the fear and anxiety i could harm her was the delusional throughs that come from PP and made worse by the separation.. the main thin I want to understand is what was going on, the delusional part. Which I see I have just answered.. the anxiety and fear of being in such a place and from staff and other patients, which noone seemed to have picked up on.

It is always comforting to see research and changing care for mental health in women, though so much farther to go .. the fact that I see APP named in reports and on help pages gives me so much hope, as I never want anyone treated as I was again..

I have the summer off now as work in a school, so time to rest, reflect and gather the things I need on the next part of my journey.

Yes never too late to ask for help, it is the most bravest thing you will ever do! Being within this group has helped so much, plus being able to support others makes it kinda ok to have suffered so much.. as stories need to be told to make a difference for future treatments to mothers not only those who suffer PPP, but others too , who suffer postnatal depression and other things that go with motherhood.

I also say... Only look back to see how far you have come... this has helped me a lot on my journey

I think about all the mums and families going through this illness everyday... it is a journey of sadness, struggles, confusion, but you will get through it, you will find tha. Inner t strength and you will become a survivor..

Take care xx

Hi guinea1, your post struck a chord with me in relation to the incredibly traumatic experience of being hospitalised with PP for 10 weeks after the birth of my first child, 40 years ago. Like many others I also suffered depression in the aftermath. I had one appointment with the psychiatrist afterwards who put me on anti depressants and no other follow up or counselling, it really was non existent then. I remember vividly the feelings of shame, embarrassment, loss of confidence and guilt and felt just a shadow of my former self. My 'coping' mechanism was to bury it, lock it away in that cupboard telling myself how lucky I was to have a gorgeous healthy daughter.

Although those feelings eventually faded they were always there in the background until by chance I stumbled across APP. What a revelation it was finding out about the condition and the opportunity to share experiences with the wonderful, strong women who took the time to respond. It was so liberating and I'll always be grateful to know that I could actually revisit it without shame and guilt and finally come to terms with the traumatic experience of PP.

Anyway, I am so glad you are getting some help and support as PP most certainly can leave a shadow. All the very best to you. Vee x

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPPartner in reply to Vee82

Dear Vee82, it is so emotional to read about your journey, and what a difference finding APP has made to you 💜you've bought a tear to my eye this morning.

I hope you are doing OK, Ellie XX

guinea1 profile image
guinea1 in reply to Vee82

Dear VeeThank you so much for your reply, amazingly you write exactly how I feel and felt, the shame and locking things away in the cupboard. I feel there must be so many of us with that shadow from years back when treatment, knowledge and therapy were so none existence... so glad like I have, you found APP it makes such a difference to realise you are not alone and that we shouldn't feel shame.

At my last appointment with my therapist, we were going over what I had gained, my tools, etc and I ask him what he had learnt from me.. he said an insight to how new mums were treated when there was very little knowledge or treatment and how badly it can effect us.

I hope you are ok xx

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