Understanding the Psychological Effects of Miscarriage

    Understanding the Psychological Effects of Miscarriage

    There is no getting around the fact that miscarriages can be traumatic. It is never easy to lose someone, especially when you are looking forward to meeting the person growing inside of you. As with any other kind of grief, there are miscarriage effects that are physical as well as psychological. A miscarriage can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This article gives you an idea of how such a loss can affect a woman after miscarriage.

    What Is It Like To Undergo Miscarriage?

    Miscarriage occurs in around 12-15% of all reported pregnancies worldwide. According to studies, 30-50% of those women have anxiety following a miscarriage. 10-15% of them also suffer from depression, which can continue for up to four months.

    Some may think that early pregnancy loss is relatively easier to cope with than a miscarriage that happens later. But that is not really the case. According to Jaffe’s co-author, Martha Diamond, Ph.D., a woman who loses her baby at 11 weeks may be just as sad as one who loses hers at 20 weeks.

    Mental health may gradually decline after miscarriage takes place. Some may experience all sorts of emotions and feelings including the following:

    • Disbelief
    • Numbness
    • Guilt
    • Anger

    Miscarriage effects can also end up displaying physical symptoms. Among the tell-tale physical or mental miscarriage effects are:

    • Fatigue
    • Sleeping difficulties
    • Concentration problems
    • Appetite loss
    • Regular crying
    • Avoiding any interaction with people (even family or friends) which causes distress
    • Refusal to take care of oneself
    • Suicidal ideation inclining to self-harm

    Hormonal changes may also play a role in heightening these symptoms.

    Anxiety and Miscarriage Effects

    Apart from the physical symptoms, anxiety has a prominent role in miscarriage effects, and may not be immediately obvious. Studies showed that anxiety was more common and intense at 12 weeks after the miscarriage. A 2007 study also observed that anxiety was more evident at 1, 6, and 13 months after miscarriage, compared to depression.

    Moreover, the uncertainties that women face following a miscarriage contribute to a high level of anxiety. As a result, this may pose a greater psychological burden than depression. Some of the notable concerns involve:

    • Waiting for menstrual cycles to return
    • Wanting to conceive right away after the traumatic event

    Risks of recurrent miscarriage and doubts about reproductive abilities are also taken into consideration.

    According to Diamond, a woman may experience an unexplainable trauma in that she may indulge in what is referred to as “retroactive bargaining.”

    Through this, they will spend most of their time and energy trying to explain and justify what happened. Oftentimes, it ends up in a cycle of guilt and blame. They may speak words like “if only I had not done this or that, it would not have happened.”

    Key Takeaways

    If you have gone through a miscarriage, you may find it difficult to wrap your head around everything that is happening in your life right now. Grieving for your baby and experiencing physical, mental and psychological changes are normal miscarriage effects.
    You may have to pass through stages of denial, anger, guilt, and depression before you can reach the point of acceptance.
    Take the time to honor this moment in your life. You do not need to force your way out of it if you are not ready. Seek support from the people around you, and your family. Please know that you are not alone in facing this event in your life.

    Learn more about mental health and mother care here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    After a Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally, https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/pregnancy-loss/miscarriage-surviving-emotionally/, Accessed November 15, 2021

    Depression and Anxiety Following Early Pregnancy Loss: Recommendations for Primary Care Providers – Johnna Nynas, Puneet Narang, Murali K. Kolikonda, and Steven Lippmann, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4468887/, Accessed November 15,2021

    Your Mental Health, https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/your-feelings/your-mental-health/, Accessed November 15, 2021

    What Is the Psychological Impact of Miscarriage, https://www.figo.org/news/what-psychological-impact-miscarriage, Accessed November 15, 2021

    Miscarriage and Loss, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/06/miscarriage, Accessed November 15, 2021

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    Written by Fiel Tugade Updated May 13
    Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD