A new study says that women who undergo fertility treatments may become so upset and stressed in the process that they develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
In the study about 50 percent of those studied met all of the criteria for being diagnosed with PTSD. That is an average of six times higher than the general population, indicating that fertility treatments are highly stressful to the point of being traumatic.
This is probably not news to anyone who has had to go through the treatments, right?
The current definition of PTSD requires that people experience or witness a life threatening event or one that could cause serious injury in order to get the diagnosis. Obviously fertility treatments, emotional abuse, and other traumatic experiences donâ€™t fall under that definition.
Symptoms of PTSD
The disorder has definitive symptoms, regardless of whether the victim was being shot at or had a negative experience that changed her life dramatically.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) the symptoms of PTSD are:
- Re-experiencing the event through flashbacks, bad dreams, or thoughts that you canâ€™t get out of your mind. These thoughts may be triggered by something you see, something someone says, a noise, or even an aroma.
- Avoidance of places, events, or other things that remind you of the experience is another way that people cope. They may describe themselves as being emotionally numb, dealing with strong guilt or depression, loss of interest in activities that they have enjoyed, or blocking the event from their mind. The victim may stop doing an activity that is a reminder of what happened.
- Hyper-arousal is another common symptom of PTSD. The victim may be easily startled, feel tense constantly, and have difficulty sleeping. There may be outburst of anger that can become violent.
The symptoms may not show up right away, either. It could be weeks or months later that you begin experiencing them, which may keep you and your health care provider from realizing that you are reacting to the trauma, not something new.
Grief Is Real
Being unable to conceive when you have planned on having a family is certainly a loss that must be grieved. You have lost an expectation of how your life was going to be, the family you created in your mind, and what you were working toward. The grief from that is very real and you should expect to go through a grieving process.
When the grief becomes trauma â€“ such as numerous attempts at conceiving with fertility treatments that fail â€“ then it begins to have an even deeper effect on you. Seeking fertility treatments over a period of time can create obsessive actions, become all that you think about, and create an unhealthy mindset.
When that stage is over you may not be able to deal with grieving over what you have lost and moving on. If this sounds like what you are dealing with, you might want to talk to your health care provider about your symptoms.
Whether you â€œofficiallyâ€ have PTSD or are wrestling with the symptoms of it, you need to get help. If you are contemplating fertility treatments you may also want to begin counseling to help you work through the emotional traumas that may arise.
Have you had fertility treatments? Do you have any advice for others that are going through it?
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