Anxiety And Ptsd Symptoms Common And Persistent After Pregnancy Loss
Early pregnancy loss is common, affecting up to 25% of pregnancies. Studies looking at the emotional consequences of miscarriage have shown that most women do well however, some women experience clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Other studies have demonstrated that many women also experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder .
Most of these studies have focused on psychological symptoms during the first few months after miscarriage a recent study has followed women over a longer period of time, examining levels of posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety in women during the nine months after early pregnancy loss.
In this prospective cohort study, women were recruited from antenatal clinics at three London hospitals. Participants received emailed surveys which included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Posttraumatic stress Diagnostic Scale at 1, 3, and 9 months after the loss.
Of the 737 women who experienced an early pregnancy loss, 493 women completed an assessment at 1 month, 426 women at 3 months, and 338 women at 9 months. Criteria for posttraumatic stress were met in 29% of women with early pregnancy loss after 1 month and in 18% after 9 months. Moderate to severe anxiety was reported in 24% of the women after 1 month and in 17% after 9 months. Moderate to severe depression was reported in 11% of the women after 1 month and 6% of the women after 9 months.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
The Study Suggests Many Women Suffer In Silence
There were caveats to the study. Bourne’s team had the women in the study fill out questionnaires about their symptoms rather than being interviewed by a psychologist, which could have skewed results. Also, some initial participants dropped out of the study, which could have led to a less representative sample of women, Bourne said.
Nonetheless, Bourne said quantifying the fact that women do indeed experience psychological distress after pregnancy loss could empower “colleagues in the workplace, employers, and family members to better support women and their partners going through a pregnancy loss, and also maybe spot some of the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress and help women seek help.”
The study also demonstrates that losing a baby early, rather than later into pregnancy, doesn’t necessarily protect women against negative mental health effects, and in some ways could make them feel more isolated.
“If we consider the ’12-week rule,’ whereby women often don’t inform people that that they are pregnant until they are around 12 weeks, this means that many women suffer a loss without their friends or family knowing anything about it,” Bourne said. “The result is a lack of support for the individual and a lack of understanding of the impact of the loss in general.”
When And How To Get Help
If you or someone you know is experiencing post-traumatic stress as a result of a pregnancy loss , its a good idea to talk to a professional about it. If someone has symptoms such as anxiety, intrusive thoughts about the experience, difficulty sleeping, or avoiding triggers related to the ectopic pregnancy, I suggest they seek out therapy immediately, Rachel Del Dosso, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in PTSD tells Scary Mommy. Trauma is stored in our bodies and unless it is effectively resolved, it can continue to cause symptoms and distress.
Given how isolating miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can be, Wells recommends getting as much support as possible. Navigating trauma and the path of grief is a singular and uncertain journey however, the pain of loss can be eased with education and adequate support from caring individuals, including family members and friends, as well as individual counseling and grief support groups, she explains. In addition, therapists specializing in trauma and perinatal loss can help people normalize their symptoms, work with them on identifying and understanding their emotions and reactions, and provide education on coping skills.
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How Do You Manage Ptsd
Firstly, its important to know that Its possible to make a full recovery from PTSD. Some people even find the symptoms go away on their own over time. However, you can suffer from symptoms for many years, especially if they go unidentified. Early recognition and intervention is one of the most important factors in aiding recovery from PTSD. This is one of the reasons Dr Jesscia hopes screening will be introduced for women who have experienced loss. Once your doctor is aware that you could be at risk of PTSD, they will be able to suggest a tailored plan of action.
Psychological therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating PTSD, and there are many different approaches you can try. Trauma-focused CBT can help readjust your thinking around your negative experience and can help relieve feelings of guilt or shame.
You can also be prescribed medication that can help manage your symptoms but it is usually a last resort. Some medication usually prescribed for depression can be effective in treating PTSD. If you are struggling after loss you should contact your GP and let him/her know what you are feeling. Your GP will be able to advise exactly what would be the right course for you.
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A Disturbing Amount Of Women Experience Ptsd After A Miscarriage
Its a sad and disturbing fact of life: Miscarriages happen, and they can be devastating for parents-to-be. Now, a new study has shown just how far that devastation can gomiscarriage caused post-traumatic stress disorder in nearly half of the women surveyed.
The findings come courtesy of researchers at the Imperial College London. For the study, which was published in BMJ Open, researchers surveyed 113 women who had recently suffered from a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy . The majority of women had experienced a pregnancy loss in the first three months of pregnancy.
Researchers discovered that four in 10 women reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD three months after their miscarriage, including moderate to severe anxiety, depression, and distress. Women also reported that they regularly re-experienced the feelings associated with losing their pregnancies and had intrusive or unwanted thoughts.” Some women had nightmares or flashbacks, and others avoided anything that could remind them of their miscarriages. Nearly a third of women said their symptoms impacted their work life, while about 40 percent said it impacted their relationships with friends and family.
Clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, agrees. Miscarriage is an extreme trauma, he tells SELF. Breaking that trauma down even further, it is a physical, emotional, and social trauma.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ptsd
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- repetitive and distressing images or sensations
- physical sensations such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling
- constant negative thoughts about the experience
- trying to feel nothing at all and trying to distract yourself to avoid thinking about what happened
- avoiding places, people or other things that remind you of the traumatic event
- watching out for danger or threats and being easily startled
Some people with post-traumatic disorder find it difficult to bond with their baby.
Miscarriage And Ectopic Pregnancy May Trigger Post
by Kate Wighton02 November 2016
Women may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, suggests a new study.
The team behind the research, from Imperial College London, say the findings suggest women should be routinely screened for the condition, and receive specific psychological support following pregnancy loss.In the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, the team surveyed 113 women who had recently experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The majority of the women in the study had suffered a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, while around 20 per cent had suffered an ectopic pregnancy, where the baby starts to grow outside of the womb.The results revealed four in ten women reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder three months after the pregnancy loss.
We were surprised at the high number of women who experienced symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss.
Dr Jessica Farren
Miscarriage affects one in four pregnancies in the UK, and is defined as the loss of a baby before 24 weeks – although most miscarriages occur before 12 weeks.
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The Psychological Impact Of Early Pregnancy Loss
When a pregnancy ends too soon and the person goes to the doctor, chances are the medical team will focus on their physical recovery. Of course, thats incredibly important, but once the bleeding stops, many women are left with lasting feelings of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
New research out of Imperial College London and KU Leuven in Belgium and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology was the largest ever study into the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss, featuring more than 650 participants. The researchers found that one month following pregnancy loss, nearly a third of women suffered post-traumatic stress while one in four experienced moderate to severe anxiety, and one in 10 had moderate to severe depression. Nine months later, many were still struggling significantly, with 18 percent reporting having post-traumatic stress, 17 percent with moderate to severe anxiety, and six percent reporting moderate to severe depression.
And while everyone who experiences a pregnancy loss is deserving of mental health care, Bourne says that women with post-traumatic stress disorder require specialized treatment in order to even attempt a full recovery. This is not widely available, and we need to consider screening women following an early pregnancy loss so we can identify those who most need help, he added in the statement.
Strategies For Physical And Emotional Healing After Miscarriage
As with any type of grief, the goal is not to fix it, but to find ways to go forward even when you desperately want time to stop or reverse. You cant bring back your child and all the hopes and dreams that youd harbored. But you can show compassion to yourself and your healing process through the following approaches:
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Miscarriage Services Need To Change
The teams research will also now focus on identifying which women are at risk of developing psychological symptoms after pregnancy loss, the impact of early pregnancy loss on partners and also the best type of treatments and how to deliver these.
Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: As the dedicated charity for the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals, we are committed to supporting pioneering research that leads to real improvements in patient care through our annual research fellowships programme. Dr Farrens study clearly shows that a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy can have profound and long-lasting impacts on womens mental health and we look forward to seeing how this important research can be translated into better care for patients and their families in the future.
Pregnancy Loss And Infertility As Trauma
Recent research suggests that pregnancy loss may be suitably conceptualized as a traumatic stressor . When a woman is almost successful in giving birth , the subsequent loss is often experienced as profoundly as the literal death of a child. The embryo is seen as the embodiment of the couples’ hopes for parenthood it is their biological child and is mourned as such . Women who have undergone the loss of a viable embryo express the emotions of grief, loss, and trauma the miscarriage is experienced as both a physical and emotional loss . Recognized as a traumatic event, the experience of pregnancy loss has further-reaching implications.
Although both infertility and pregnancy loss have long been recognized as significant stressors, research thus far has failed to address the full extent to which a woman’s life is impacted when dealing with the short and long-term consequences of the non-event of involuntary childlessness. Reproductive problems tax a woman’s inner resources to a great degree, thus identifying it as one of the most serious life stressors a woman can experience . The prospect of reproductive problems often comes with some surprise as it prevents the successful advancement and accomplishment of a normal family life cycle phase. Echoing research findings in the area of trauma, studies have found that reproductive problems challenge normal coping mechanisms, stretching those impacted by the experience of infertility tremendously .
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Demographic And Background Characteristics Of The Study Sample
The groups were similar in terms of age at presentation . Gestation at presentation was lower in the ectopic pregnancy group. Similar proportions were in vitro fertilisation pregnancies in the control and miscarriage group, but no women with an ectopic pregnancy had IVF. Most ectopic pregnancies were diagnosed on the first ultrasound scan . Most miscarriages had an initially inconclusive ultrasound scan . The majority of ectopic pregnancies were ultimately treated surgically, whereas 50/95 of miscarriages were successfully managed expectantly or with outpatient medical management.
Miscarriage And Mental Illness
Mental illness can be a consequence of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss. Even though women can develop long-term psychiatric symptoms after a miscarriage, acknowledging the potential of mental illness is not usually considered. A mental illness can develop in women who have experienced one or more miscarriages after the event or even years later. Some data suggest that men and women can be affected up to 15 years after the loss. Though recognized as a public health problem, studies investigating the mental health status of women following miscarriage are still lacking.Posttraumatic stress disorder can develop in women who have experienced a miscarriage. Risks for developing PTSD after miscarriage include emotional pain, expressions of emotion, and low levels of social support. Even if relatively low levels of stress occur after the miscarriage, symptoms of PTSD including flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, dissociation and hyperarousal can later develop.Clinical depression also is associated with miscarriage. Past responses by clinicians have been to prescribe sedatives.
Recurring miscarriage may increase the incidence of intrusive thoughts in women and their partners.
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How Common Is Ptsd
About one or two in every 100 women have post-traumatic stress after giving birth.
It’s possible for birth partners to experience PTSD symptoms too. Seeing someone you care about in distress or pain can be very upsetting and many partners have told us that seeing a traumatic birth made them feel helpless, out of control or scared. This can cause birth trauma.
PTSD UK states that research is limited, but it is thought that 5% of partners develop trauma symptoms after being present during the birth.
Having A Miscarriage Can Cause Depression And Ptsd So Why Is No One Talking About It
Trigger warning: This article discusses miscarriages and depression.
Yolanda Dodson, 32, living in Alexandria, VA, was nine weeks pregnant when she found out she had a miscarriage. Three days later she had a dilation and curettage , which is a procedure to remove the no-longer-viable pregnancy from her bodysomething she never imagined shed have to endure. After my loss, I was lost, Dodson tells HelloGiggles. I was so angry at my body for what happened. Trying to be a mom to my 6-year-old while having these feelings was the hardest. People told me to be happy I had him, and I was, but longing for my child that I lost. It made me feel like I wasnt enough. I was very depressed and had many dark thoughts.
Dodson is not alone in her experience. As a psychologist who specializes in reproductive and maternal mental health, I frequently treat patients who describe the same anger and frustration with their body post-pregnancy loss. A reported 10-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, a number thats believed to be higher as many people miscarry before they know theyre pregnant. These miscarriages can have very real and lasting mental health impacts on the people who experience them. For instance, a 2003 study found that women who had miscarried experienced depressive symptoms six to eight weeks after their loss, and a 1995 study found that depression following a pregnancy loss can last upwards of a year.
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Miscarriage Perceived Ostracism And Trauma: A Preliminary Investigation
- 1Department of Psychology, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, United States
- 2College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, United States
Miscarriage often is a traumatic experience with serious mental health implications. Friends and family members are often uncomfortable with and avoid discussing the topic with bereaved individuals, potentially making them feel ostracized , contributing to their mental health concerns. We investigated the correlation between posttraumatic stress symptoms, perceived ostracism, and recalled grief intensity measures in a sample of cisgender women who have had a miscarriage. These participants were recruited using Qualtricss Panel Recruitment Services. Womens perceived ostracism correlated positively with posttraumatic stress symptoms and negatively with grief congruence . Perceived ostracism also explained additional variance in posttraumatic stress symptoms when considered alongside grief intensity measures .