A new study published in the journal “Depression and Anxiety” reveals that women who suffer from post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) may experience a reduction in symptoms during pregnancy, FOX News reports.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Nursing analyzed 319 women with previously diagnosed PTSD through pregnancy and post-partum, all of which were interviewed twice while they were pregnant. This is the first study to track symptoms of PTSD among women throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
According to Eurekalert, results showed that more than 50% of the women in the study had high PTSD symptoms in the early parts of their pregnancy, but experienced a decrease as they approached childbirth. Women who experienced low levels of symptoms maintained their condition.
However, one in four women with PTSD experienced worsened symptoms during their pregnancy. These women either suffered a new stress or trauma during pregnancy or had the most anxiety about giving birth. They also had post-birth problems.
Through the study, researchers found four groups of women with different responses to PTSD during pregnancy. They found that some women began their pregnancy with high PTSD symptoms and got moderately or substantially better, women who began their pregnancy with low PTSD symptoms and maintained it throughout the pregnancy, and those who began relatively low but got worse throughout the pregnancy.
“We hope our results give a message of hope that women who have a past diagnosis of PTSD aren’t all headed for a worsening while they’re pregnant,” study lead author and psychiatrist Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S. commented. “But we also have highlighted a vulnerable group that has a heightened risk of worsening symptom and postnatal issues that could have lasting effects for both mother and child.”
Researchers also note that women who had the strongest social support networks throughout the pregnancy were more protected against the risk of developing worse PTSD symptoms, indicating that this may also be key in helping pregnant women deal with PTSD.
PTSD is prevalent in 7% to 8% of the American population, and about eight million adults have it in a year. In fact, PTSD is more prevalent in women (about 10 out of every 100 women), than men (about four in every 100 men), according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
People are more likely to acquire PTSD if they are directly exposed to the trauma as a victim or witness, are seriously hurt during an event, are going through a long-lasting or very severe trauma, believe that he or she or a family member is in danger, or feel helpless during the trauma.