Experiencing a miscarriage can be devastating for a woman. The effects of not fully grieving from the experience of a miscarriage can lead to a spiral of bad feelings that can ultimately lead to clinical depression. Having seen many women suffering from anxiety and depression relating to their miscarriages, I would like to assure you that seeking counseling and/or medical help can be a major step forward to restoring your mental health and moving your life forward.
Being vulnerable to depression and anxiety disorders right after a miscarriage can be exacerbated by hormonal changes that occur with the onset of pregnancy. Women with a prior history of depression and anxiety are also at increased risk for these conditions to reoccur.
While it is perfectly normal to grieve after a miscarriage, some woman find it difficult to cope with the onslaught of negative feelings afterwards. Disbelief, anger, guilt, and numbness are commonly felt, and these feelings can lead to difficulties with sleep, concentration, along with a loss of appetite and episodes of crying. In severe situations, depression after miscarriage can lead to suicidal ideation.
Moving Through the Grieving Process
Tapping into grief, and allowing yourself to move through different stages of the grieving process, which include shock/denial, anger/guilt, and acceptance, is vital to restoring your psychological well being. One common thought is for a woman to wonder “why me,” and to feel an overall sense of sadness. In my experience, there is no set timetable for moving through the grieving process. One person may shift their focus from shock and denial to anger quite quickly, while another person may need quite a bit more time.
Setbacks and Plan for Recovery
Perhaps the most agonizing thing about a miscarriage is seeing others announce births and building families. This can trigger a sense of helplessness in terms of how to move forward and make grieving even more difficult. It is also perfectly normal for a woman to feel a deep sense of loss for a pregnancy that she was ambivalent about in the first place.
When you are vulnerable, day-to-day life can seem like it is full of land mines. Even the little things, like the mention of someone’s new baby, can set someone back. Routine events like family gatherings and visits to the OB-GYN can be painful in the context of a recent miscarriage.
Beyond connecting with people close to you and seeking out a practitioner with the insight and specific knowledge of therapeutic approaches for miscarriage, a woman can direct her own recovery as well.
Something that should be obvious but can be neglected after miscarrying is to protect yourself by engaging and spending time with “true” friends and family who are supportive. Since many people do not know what to say to a woman in the aftermath of losing her baby, it is ok to advise people close to you about the support that you need.
In particular, your partner may not grieve in the same way, and communicating your specific needs to them can be very helpful. While men indeed can grieve after miscarriage, most men establish powerful bonds with a baby after it is born, while a mother typically begins to bond with her baby at the time of pregnancy.
Back to Normal
With as many as 1 in 5 pregnancies resulting in a miscarriage, please know that it is a common experience, and that many women can provide support in the event you have one as well. Recognizing and accepting that you will experience grief, loss, anger, and a sense of alienation is a good foundation for healing. As a specialist in psychiatric issues relating to reproduction, I would be delighted to discuss any issues relating to miscarriage. Please call me at (917) 609-4990 for a consultation.