When most people think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they think of combat situations or someone who’s witnessed a horrific crime. Very few associate it with the postpartum phase of pregnancy.
Yet, postpartum PTSD, while different from its better-known cousin, postpartum depression, is also more common than you think.
ReYou is a ketamine infusion clinic in Howell, New Jersey, that treats women with postpartum depression and postpartum PTSD, alleviating the worst of the symptoms with ketamine, a powerful anesthetic that can help rewire brain connections and provide relief.
If you’re a new mom living with postpartum PTSD, here’s what you need to know about the condition and how the treatment works.
Causes and symptoms of postpartum PTSD
Postpartum PTSD isn’t as well known as other pregnancy-related mood disorders, but it’s actively being studied. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicates that as many as 16% of new parents live with this condition, especially after they’ve endured a traumatic childbirth experience.
Postpartum PTSD is often linked to an event where the mother felt her or her baby’s life was threatened in some way. It may have been that certain procedures during birth happened suddenly, like an emergency C-section, or that what was happening wasn’t fully explained to her.
Examples of such events also include:
- A premature birth
- A baby needing NICU care
- Unexpected birth complications, including prolapsed cord, vacuum/forceps delivery
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Significant postpartum tearing
Trauma, though, isn’t the only risk factor. Others include a history of infertility, previous childbirth complications, abortion, social isolation, and mental health issues, including general PTSD.
What’s interesting to note is that about 3% of parents diagnosed with postpartum PTSD didn’t have a life-threatening birthing experience. Clearly, more research is needed into the causes.
Symptoms are similar to those of general PTSD, including avoiding places or people that remind you of the experience (e.g., hospitals and doctors), nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.
The history and action of ketamine
Ketamine was first used as a battlefield anesthetic during the Vietnam War, and it proved to be highly effective. About a decade later, it moved into operating rooms across the country.
Eventually, doctors realized ketamine had a powerful effect against mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It’s moved into the clinical setting as a means of helping treatment-resistant patients, those who don’t respond to first-line conventional treatments.
While common antidepressants such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by modulating the serotonin (a neurotransmitter) pathway, serotonin receptors only make up about 20% of those in the body. And many patients don’t respond to the medications.
The other 80% of receptors are for GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. Ketamine works by modifying this pathway. Current thinking is that ketamine likely binds to NMDA receptors in the brain, which increases glutamate levels. The increase in glutamate produces increased levels of GABA, which resets the brain.
In addition, ketamine fosters new neural connections, helping to improve mood, thought patterns, and cognition.
We generally provide patients with 6-8 infusions over a period of 3-4 weeks. The results, which can reduce feelings of hopelessness and intrusive thoughts, are long-lasting. That means you can finally focus on the wonder of your new family and enjoy a better quality of life.
If you’re dealing with the fear and intrusive thoughts of a traumatic childbirth experience, you’re not alone, and we can help. To learn more about ketamine therapy and to find out if you’re a good candidate, call us at ReYou at 908-638-1133 to book a free consultation today.