Miscarriage is one of the most painful experiences of a woman. It never matters whether the pregnancy was 20 weeks or less than one month. It is a tragedy that robs one of her deep emotional bond that had been created. The intense grief that follows after the sudden loss is always overwhelming but understandable. It is possible that the miscarriage distress can progress to depression.
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Every time that the body moves from pregnant to non-pregnant state, there are many physical emotional and physical changes that take place. These changes are attributed to the sudden change of hormonal levels. In miscarriage, the changes present are usually less dramatic than a full-term pregnancy. However, for miscarriage, the depressive emotions are aggravated by grief.
Other risk factors include family or personal history of depression, inadequate social support during the pregnancy and after a miscarriage, a previous miscarriage, and traumatic life events.
How Does One Feel?
It is not easy to distinguish between grief and postpartum depression. However, you should be concerned if the emotions interfere with normal life, several weeks after the loss. Some of the signs include:
- Difficulty in finding sleep, staying asleep or excessive sleeping
- Loss of appetite or eating excessively
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, and emptiness
- Persistent anxiety, restlessness, and distress
- Irritability, anger, and agitation
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities and sex
- Feelings of guilt and blaming oneself for the miscarriage
- Loss of concentration
- Persistent fatigue
- Crying for no reason
- Unintended weight loss
- Thoughts of harming oneself, suicide or death
- Suicidal attempts
There are no hard and fast rules on the number of weeks that you should experience these symptoms. If they get in the way of your normal life and work, seek medical and psychological help immediately. Ignoring the symptoms will make it difficult to treat, and will definitely take longer.
How Long Does It Last?
Studies suggest that postpartum depression after a miscarriage can last for 6 to 12 months or even longer. According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Emma Robertson Blackmore, it can last up to three years, even after one is blessed with a healthy baby. Nevertheless, with treatment and support, the recovery period is much easier.
How Is It Treated?
Mental health specialists recommend that if one suffers a miscarriage, they should be monitored in the first weeks after the tragic loss and even better if continued through to the first year. Usually, most women suffer in silence and may not see the need to reach out for professional help. However, it is of utmost importance to see your doctor or a mental health care provider to decide the course of treatment.
Depending on your symptoms and the duration that you have had them, a good therapist will either put you on medication, psychotherapy (talk therapy) or both. In addition to this treatment, you may find support through physical support groups, online organizations, social media or find a friend to walk with you during this grim time.
It also helps for some women to find closure through rituals like planting a flower in honor of the baby, creating a memorial art image, a private church ceremony as a couple, lighting a candle, or anything that you and your partner agree to mark the loss of the child. The rituals honor the pregnancy experience, validate your feelings and acknowledge the brief presence of the baby in your life.
Treatment will be most effective if you surround yourself with a strong support network. Do not isolate yourself from other people and your partner, remember that he is grieving too. It is critical for the both of you to focus on communicating and sharing your emotions regularly. Also read helpful books together, attend support groups together and support each other during medical treatment and therapy sessions.
You will also see significant improvement if you stick to your treatment plan, eat healthy balanced diets, get enough rest and sleep, exercise regularly and set some quality time for your self-care activities.
How about the Next Pregnancy?
After dealing with the loss of a pregnancy and at the same time postpartum depression, you will be at high risk in the subsequent pregnancy. It is natural to want to get pregnant soonest after a miscarriage. Physicians advise that it is safe to attempt to get pregnant again after six months. Some women may also want to take more time to deal with the loss. There is no specific time that is tailored to every mom. Above all, it is wise to wait until you have dealt with postpartum depression symptoms and your body is physically and mentally ready for another pregnancy.
During your antenatal care visits, ensure that you mention to your obstetrician that you have a history of PPD. You will be closely monitored antenatally and after delivery. The doctor may see the need to put you on medication in the third trimester, but this will rely on how severe your depression was and whether you exhibit any symptoms in pregnancy. The doctor will also recommend counseling sessions, to prevent reoccurrence.
Your mind may wallow in constant worry that you may lose your pregnancy again. It is normal to feel concerned, but let it not overpower you. According to Mayo Clinic, miscarriage is mostly a one -time incidence. The highest chances are that you will go on and have a healthy pregnancy and baby. However, this does not mean that you will not need close medical and psychological monitoring.
Remember, after a miscarriage, you are thrown into an unknown world of denial, anger, and depression. Everything turns upside down, and you are suddenly expected to start all over again. It is normal to feel the sadness, but it is unfortunate that depression engulfs a weary soul. It sets in, then it cripples you further. It is understandable and treatable as well. You have the permission to grieve successfully but again, be attentive to your grieving process and respond by seeking professional help when you feel that is holding your life still.