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How can I Deal with Depression After Miscarriage?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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It is profoundly difficult to deal with depression after miscarriage, whether it stems from emotional or physiological sources, or both. Clearly, this time of difficulty warrants as much support as women can garner. Many women find help through group therapy, individual therapeutic assistance, and/or medical advice. With these different types of support, most women can eventually arrive at a place where the pain is lessened.

Depression after miscarriage needs to be understood from several contexts. Women might suffer from true postpartum depression due to a decline in pregnancy hormones. Also, miscarriage can be anything from slightly sad to devastating, and the sadness that accompanies losing a baby might or might not have a biochemical feature. Depression is a serious illness and grief is a challenging state of mind, but women usually cannot tell by feelings alone whether they are truly depressed or only grieving. Thus, getting medical help and therapeutic support is highly recommended.

There are a number of ways to get support for depression after miscarriage. Many hospice or hospital-based organizations have pregnancy loss support groups. One of the things many women find comforting about group support is the ability to talk to others who are experiencing the same kind of loss. Having a place to share with other women who are in a similar place emotionally can help provide validation and ease feelings of isolation.

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While support groups are all some women require to get through sadness or depression after miscarriage, they’re not always adequate. Many women benefit from individual support in a counseling setting with either a grief counselor or psychotherapist. The advantage of the psychotherapist in this setting is that he or she can suggest whether sadness is so profound it meets the diagnostic standards for true depression. In this case, the woman could be referred to a doctor or psychiatrist for medical/drug therapy.

An alternative is seeing a medical general practitioner or psychiatrist early on to discuss the possible benefits of using an antidepressant. The use of antidepressants isn’t necessarily alternative to therapy. Psychotherapy and antidepressant use can be pursued concurrently and are most effective together.

Anyone who feels so devastated by a miscarriage that she begins to entertain suicidal thoughts or is unable to function in daily life may need medication. It’s not as clear that profound grief is an indication for medication use or represents an ongoing depressive condition. Moreover, if a woman plans to get pregnant again soon, there is reason to avoid antidepressant use. Recent studies indicate that many antidepressants create higher risks for birth defects, and it’s fairly clear they are best not used in pregnancy unless risk to the mother is too high without them.

Grief or depression after miscarriage is common, and most women find they benefit from support during this time. Support doesn’t need to be as formal as the methods suggested above. Many women know someone else who has a lost a child, and simple, open friendship, especially when women share this grief in common, can promote healing.

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