Depression After Miscarriage Can Linger
Study Shows Depression for Women Who Have Had Miscarriage Continues Even After Birth of a Baby
Coping With the Loss
The new findings make sense to Georgia Witkin, PhD, senior psychologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York and director of the Stress Research Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City
“Stress goes up when people lose control and their ability to predict what will happen next goes down,” she says. Pregnancy loss, which is often unexpected, affects both, she says,
“It really takes two years for it [the loss] to become a fact,” says Witkin, who is the author of The Female Stress Survival Guide.
In the new study, the more recent your pregnancy loss, the more likely you are to become depressed or anxious even after you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. “This makes sense because you may not have fully dealt with the first loss,” she says.
The birth may also open up floodgates, she says.
“Once you have lost a pregnancy, you not only fear another miscarriage, but you also fear something that can happen to your child,” Witkin says. “You are still shaken and now there is more to worry about.”
“If you or someone you are close to has been through a miscarriage, and it occurs pretty close to the birth of their baby, watch them for signs,” Witkin says.
Sami David, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and pregnancy loss specialist in New York City, says the emotional aftermath of a miscarriage or stillbirth doesn't just go away when you achieve a healthy pregnancy; it stays with you.
“If you experience a loss, try to find out why it happened,” he says. Based on the reasons (and there aren’t always reasons), you may be able to intervene to prevent future losses, says David, author of Making Babies: A Proven Three-Month Program for Maximum Fertility.
“History of a miscarriage or stillbirth should be a red flag for risk of subsequent depression, and something all doctors should ask about,” he says.