PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― Stephanie Stahl
In health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is usually linked to soldiers returning from war, but it strikes women too after what's supposed to be a joyous event. Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl explains.
Jodi Kluchar still remembers the intense pain and fear she felt during and after a complicated emergency C-section.
"I was surprised to be awake because I thought I was going to die," Jodi said.
Jodi gave birth to a healthy baby boy, but says she felt emotionally numb. Nightmares and flashbacks of her son's birth terrified her.
"I would cry all the time, I was just empty, I just wasn't there," Jodi explained.
Those feelings lasted into her second pregnancy and that's when Jodi decided she needed help.
She was diagnosed not with post-partum depression, but with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is typically associated with troops after they've been in combat.
For new moms, it strikes when they perceive that her life or that of her child is in danger.
"The core of their perception of a traumatic childbirth is that during labor and delivery they feel a lack of control of events," Dr. Cheryl Beck said.
There are distinct warning signs that a mother has developed PTSD.
They include: flashbacks, nightmares, irritability and avoidance.
"So the person, in this case the woman, is avoiding any memories or any triggers of the trauma, whether it be the hospital, the doctors and sometimes even the baby," Dr. Sue Varma of the American Psychiatric Association said.
By the time Jodi gave birth to her daughter, her symptoms were under control. Now she continues to take medication and see a therapist.
"There is hope. I've been in the deep dark pit that I never wanted to be in and I've made it to the other side," Jodi said.
Research has shown up to 9-percent of new mothers experience PTSD.