Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first recognised during the First World War and was referred to as ‘Shell Shock’. Following the Vietnam War, it gained the name ‘Combat Fatigue’. It wasn’t until 1980 that the actual term PTSD first appeared in The American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was once believed that only military personnel can experience PTSD. Fortunately, it is now recognised that ordinary people can experience PTSD after a traumatic event. These can range from natural disasters, car accidents, heart attacks, rape, abuse, assault. It can also occur after surgery, the sudden loss of a loved one, the break-up of a long-term relationship, or experiencing humiliation.
The possibility of PTSD following childbirth was not recognised until as late as 1994. Before this, the notion that a person could be traumatised from a ‘normal’ event was dismissed. It is not just the birth itself that can lead to trauma symptoms, but any one thing from the birth experience. It can have a devastating effect on the sufferer’s enjoyment of life and their family situation. Women have reported anger, crying, self-blame, suicidal intention, isolation from others, difficulties bonding with their baby, relationship problems, and even avoidance of future pregnancies due to overwhelming fear.
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will go on to develop PTSD. Around 80% of people process traumatic events and recover naturally. The remaining 20% require some form of treatment or therapy to recover from the experience and resolve the trauma symptoms.
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