Published Tue, 2011-03-15 11:07; updated 4 years ago.

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Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often the result of a traumatic birth, such as a very long or painful labour, or an emergency or problematic delivery.

It can also develop after other types of trauma, such as:

  • a fear of dying or your baby dying, or
  • life-threatening situations.

The symptoms of postnatal PTSD can occur alone or in addition to the symptoms of postnatal depression (see Feeling depressed in Useful links). 

The symptoms of PTSD include:

  • nightmares,
  • flashbacks,
  • panic attacks,
  • sleeping problems,
  • lack of emotions, and
  • severe irritability or anger.

The symptoms can develop straight after the birth or months afterwards.

It's very important to talk to someone about how you're feeling. Your midwife, GP or health visitor will be able help you. If you're worried about talking to a health professional, consider asking a close friend or family member to come with you for support.

There are very effective treatments available, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and medications. See Useful links for more information about treatments for PTSD.

For more information on antenatal and postnatal mental health, go to the NICE website. You can find information there on what services are available if you're depressed.

NHS Choices