The trauma of miscarriage can trigger PTSD

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, January 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not limited to soldiers on the battlefield; It can happen to anyone after a traumatic event, including loss of pregnancy.

After a spontaneous abortion or an ectopic pregnancy, 1 in 6 women may have PTSD almost a year later, European researchers report.

"Early pregnancy loss is associated with a significant level of psychological distress and, in particular, on the order of 20% will have PTSD that persists until at least nine months after the loss and probably more," said lead researcher Dr Tom Bourne

PTSD is a psychiatric condition that can develop after a shocking, scary or dangerous experience. In many cases, the PSTD will not respond to general guidance and will require specific treatment, said Bourne, a professor at Imperial College London and a gynecologist consultant at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London.

His team studied more than 650 women who experienced a miscarriage, defined as the loss of pregnancy before 12 weeks, or an ectopic pregnancy. That is where the embryo begins to grow outside the uterus and cannot develop.

Those who suffered from PTSD continued to relive the feelings they had when losing their baby and suffered intrusive or unwanted losses from their miscarriage. Some also had nightmares or flashbacks, and others avoided anything that reminded them of their loss.

For many women, pregnancy loss will be the most traumatic event in their life, Bourne said.

"There is a need for greater awareness of this problem and adequate treatment is provided. It is likely that in the near future, women will be screened for PTSD at an interval after a pregnancy loss so that treatment can be administered. adequate, "said Bourne. "Given the number of women who suffer an early pregnancy loss each year, this represents a major public health problem."

In this study, the questionnaires asked women about their emotions and behavior.

The researchers found that in the following month, 29% met the criteria for PTSD, 24% had moderate to severe anxiety and 11% suffered from moderate to severe depression.


The anguish decreased over time, but remained significant. After nine months, 18% suffered from PTSD, 17% had moderate to severe anxiety and 6% had moderate to severe depression.

The answers were compared with those of 171 women who had normal pregnancies. The researchers found that the level of psychological distress was significantly higher among those who had lost pregnancy.

Kate Rawson, a British actress and playwright, wrote a radio play based on her two miscarriages.

"After my first miscarriage, I was numb. I didn't know how to react or who to approach. I didn't know if it was pain what I was feeling, or if that was a valid response to losing something so small." "he said in a press release from Imperial College London.

Rawson's second miscarriage was even more devastating, he said. In addition to the guilt "for what she could have done to cause it," she said she also felt a deep sadness for herself, her husband and her friends, who would have to comfort her again.

"I tried to & # 39; move on & # 39; as they advised me. & # 39; Try again & # 39; I was full of anxiety that got worse when I got pregnant for the third time," Rawson said.

"I struggled to keep the perspective and hovered between loving this baby more than anything else and wishing it would just bleed and end the horrible and my life would come back," he said. Only after his baby was born, he said, did he realize the magnitude of what had happened and the need to process it.

"The loss of a baby is a painful experience for a family," said Dr. Lisa Waddell, deputy medical director of the March of Dimes.

"We know that many women suffer in silence," Waddell said. "These findings highlight the need to continue evaluating ways to better support women before, during and after pregnancy," he said. He added that it is important to guarantee access to mental health services, social support and clinical care.

The report was published on January 14 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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SOURCES: Tom Bourne, M.B., Ph.D., practice professor, Imperial College London, and gynecologist consultant, Queen Charlotte & # 39; s and Chelsea Hospital, London, United Kingdom; Lisa Waddell, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Medical and Health Director, Senior Vice President, Impact on Maternal and Child Health, March of Dimes; January 14, 2020,American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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