Every year in the United States, nearly one million women give birth by cesarean. Cesarean depression is common, yet seldom discussed in medical circles.
Many women experience a sense of failure and disappointment for six months or so after having a cesarean, especially an unexpected one. Women who have emergency cesareans experience a sixfold higher incidence of depression.
These negative feelings may last many months, even years. The women with longer lasting depression frequently have nightmares and anxiety dreams that go on for many months.
Some women accept the memory of the cesarean and put it into perspective with the rest of their lives only after personal therapy or association with a cesarean support group. But we can't always expect a neat-and-tidy ending.
None of us probably ever totally resolves the major disappointments in our lives, no matter what our particular list of disappointments might be, whether important love affairs or failed marriages, career reversals, lost babies, or for some women, unexpected cesareans.
Some therapists have compared the depth of some women's depression after a cesarean to the stress disorder associated with some Vietnam veterans -- posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition to nightmares, other symptoms of PTSD are jumpiness and sleeping difficulties.
Although considered rare, PTSD is not limited to veterans, or women who are depressed after a cesarean. Children exposed to violence, women who have been raped, battered wives, and victims of terrorists may also share some of these symptoms.