Please note that Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust is not responsible for the content of any of the links below but hopes that they may provide a source of further help and information.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you are involved in or witness a traumatic event, it is a normal reaction to feel upset, confused and distressed. However sometimes, you do not get over this stress reaction. You may feel emotionally numb to begin with and after a while you may develop emotional and physical reactions to the stress you experienced. If these emotional and physical reactions do not resolve after a prolonged period of time, or are very extreme, you may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. There doesn’t seem to be a time limit on distress and some people will not develop PTSD symptoms until many years after the event.

PTSD and the postnatal period

About 1 or 2 in every 100 women giving birth will develop PTSD

Some women experience post-traumatic stress following a traumatic birth, miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a child.

It can be hard to talk about how you are feeling, but it is very important to seek support so that the right help can be found as soon as possible.

By informing health professionals, we are able to get you the support and treatment you need, which may include a discussion (‘debrief’) of events that happened and the time to answer questions.

Not every woman will want a ‘debrief’ and the health professionals will be woman-led and centred. A debrief should not routinely be offered and should not routinely occur within 6 weeks of the birth.

Symptoms of PTSD

Other symptoms may include:


Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing – EMDR

This treatment uses rhythmic eye movements while remembering the traumatic event and it is designed to stimulate the information-processing system in the brain. The purpose of this treatment is to help process the traumatic event, help speed up the change and recover from the event.

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy – CBT

This is a talking therapy that looks at changing the way we view things and change negative thoughts into positive ones. Certain triggers can bring on unwanted feelings and this CBT can help you recognise these and find useful ways of reacting and behaving.

These treatments may be accessed via your GP or via a self-referral to IAPT services.

This service offers counselling and advice for anyone experiencing generalised anxiety disorder, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Panic disorder, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Social phobia and Agoraphobia.
People registered with a GP and are 16 years and over can ‘self-refer’ or be referred by your GP.
This service is for anyone in Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, New Forest, Test Valley and Winchester.
Refer online or call 02380 383920

Talking Change
This service is for people aged 16 and over who are registered with a GP in Portsmouth PO1-PO6 and who are experiencing mild to severe depression and anxiety and offer counselling and support groups. Refer yourself or be referred via your GP.
8F The Pompey Centre
Fratton Way
Call: 023 9289 2920
Hotline to self-refer 023 9289 2928

Medication is not normally the first treatment offered for PTSD; however, you might be prescribed medication to manage the symptoms of your PTSD.

Things that might help

Some helpful links

ASSIST trauma care - Support, understanding and therapy for people experiencing PTSD, and families and carers
Helpline: 01788 560 800

Baby centre - Online information on how to recover after a traumatic birth

Birth trauma association - support for women who have experienced traumatic childbirth with information for fathers/partners

Life centre - Telephone counselling for survivors of sexual abuse and those supporting survivors
Adult helpline: 0844 847 7879
Under 18s helpline: 0808 802 0808

NHS Choices - PTSD Treatment information about treatments available

Unfold Your Wings – Raising awareness of Birth Trauma and Perinatal PTSD
Email Emma Jane at: