Pregnancy Loss and Postpartum Depression

In my practice, where I specialize in treating women with pregnancy and postpartum disorders, I sometimes encounter patients who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Along with the expected depression, we sometimes find that this loss appears to cause a great deal of anxiety about future pregnancies. The depression that may follow a loss requires treatment, and bereavement can be complicated when the women also experiences postpartum depression symptoms.

In an article which was published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, and featured on WebMD Health News, as well as discussed in a blog written by pediatrician and author, Claudia M. Gold, M.D., this was the takeaway: “Health providers and women themselves think that once they have a healthy baby after a loss, all would be fine and that any anxiety, fears, or depression would go away, but that is simply not the case.

The data revealed that of 13,133 pregnant women in the study, “21% had experienced one or more previous miscarriages, 108 had one previous stillbirth, and three women had two previous stillbirths. Among the women who had one previous miscarriage or stillbirth, 13% were still experiencing *symptoms of depression. Almost three years later, about 19% of women who had two previous pregnancy losses were still depressed after 33 months.

To my opinion, I found it astonishing that the researchers were surprised with the results. Long-lasting depression after pregnancy loss is certainly not a revelation to me. Unfortunately, family, friends, and the general public do not understand the intense significance and impact of this sorrowful experience. Too often, people assure the depressed woman that it will be fine and that another pregnancy will make it all better. This attitude discounts the pain the woman is undergoing and that healing takes time.
*I describe these symptoms in my book, “Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders.”

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~ by ppdsus on August 3, 2013.

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