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Miscarriage and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition commonly associated with war veterans or victims of violence. But in truth, “trauma” happens regularly to everyday people living everyday lives. Car accidents, severe illnesses and injuries can all lead to symptoms of PTSD. So can a miscarriage. Defined as a pregnancy that ends on its own within the first 20 weeks, miscarriage is a relatively common occurrence. One in four pregnancies verified by clinicians end in miscarriage. Some women may experience multiple miscarriages. The emotional effects of a miscarriage can linger for months or years, and can cause PTSD symptoms in women who have experienced such a tragedy.

PTSD Symptoms in Women Who Experience a Miscarriage

After a miscarriage, it is absolutely normal for the expectant parents to feel sad. A miscarriage dashes the hope of having a healthy child in the next few months — a child who has already been dreamt of, planned for, and perhaps even named. While feeling sad after a miscarriage is normal, sadness that lingers for several weeks can be a sign of trouble. PTSD symptoms in women are particularly complex and may include:

  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Frequent crying
  • Dreams or nightmares regarding the miscarriage
  • “Flashbacks” of the miscarriage
  • Avoiding anything that is a reminder of the miscarriage

Help for Women Experiencing PTSD After a Miscarriage

No woman has control over whether her baby is born healthy, is miscarried or is delivered stillborn. Miscarriages are no one’s fault, regardless of superstitions or old wives’ tales. Nothing about a pregnancy is guaranteed. Miscarriages are not shameful and there is no reason to feel guilty about experiencing one. Still, many women grieve their loss and struggle to overcome the traumatic impact that it has had on them. Help is available in the form of counseling and therapy, but leaning on friends and family for support is also important. Don’t try to walk on this path alone. Resources

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