Time to break the silence on miscarriage?

A recent study published in the English journal BMJOpen demonstrated that Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was measured in 38% of women having suffered a miscarriage; with 20% having anxiety and 5% experiencing depression.

Miscarriage occurs quite frequently, accounting for approximately 15 – 20% of early pregnancy loss in the first trimester, usually before the 10-week mark. However no psychological support is proposed to help these women who experienced an abortion and who acknowledge not emerging unscathed from the experience. Dr Jessica Farren, as principle author of the study insists: “We have the tools to treat post-partum depression, but we are not equipped to treat the trauma and the depression following the loss of a child”.

The psychological symptoms after miscarriage may include latent anxiety, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and behaviors to avoid situations which recall being pregnant.

In the past, miscarriages were rarely mentioned. But now they are coming out into the open. Recently in Canada, the Ontario court classified miscarriage as a disability. They stated that “it is an unusual situation which has an impact on the woman and her ability to behave adequately in society.”

The court’s vice-president concluded that « A miscarriage is definitely not a usual transient and fleeting disorder. Listening to the complainant’s testimony testifies to this fact since even today she suffers emotional distress related to her miscarriage.”

It appears urgent to obtain psychological accompaniment for women who might need support. One third of the women suffering miscarriage confirm that their symptoms had an effect on their professional careers with 40% attesting to an effect on their personal relationships. For Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cognitive behavioral therapy appears efficacious. Yet, according to experts, it is still to be proved whether this therapy can be adapted to women who experienced a miscarriage.


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