Breaking The Silence Surrounding Anxiety After Miscarriage
Miscarriage is one of those muddy words everyone is reluctant to address. Even women who have experienced miscarriages themselves seem sworn to secrecy. The mere idea that you have to wait until the three-month mark to announce a pregnancy is a testament to that. This even though around 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s roughly 1 in every 4. Still, those silent barriers aren’t coming down half as fast as other barriers women face. Many would argue that they aren’t coming down at all.
The sad fact is that there’s no official support for women post-miscarriage. Even in the case of stillbirths, women leave hospital with no further appointments in place. Unsurprisingly, that leaves many suffering from a mental health perspective.
Of course, there is some public conception that miscarriage can lead to depression. . But, in keeping with that shroud of silence, fewer people realize that anxiety is also a common post-miscarriage issue. Studies even suggest that it may be more common than the depression we more typically associate. The very few studies into this topic have found that sufferers of miscarriage or recurrent miscarriage are at risk of various forms of anxiety including -
Generalized anxiety disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Acute stress disorder
More worryingly, around 15% of women in a 2011 study reported such issues. In many ways, this seems inevitable. Anxiety often comes about from feelings of losing control, and miscarriage can seem like an ultimate in losing control of your body. It's important to note, too, that anxiety of this nature often escalates. A woman may feel generalized anxiety, which worsens when she has to return to work. Then, of course, there is the anxiety over getting pregnant again, especially in the case of recurrent miscarriage. Most women who have experienced a miscarriage certainly report feeling more fear than excitement at seeing a positive test.
This next-pregnancy anxiety is made worse by the fact that, until three miscarriages, no further tests or attention are given. Even after two miscarriages, women have to wait until their regular scan dates. So, not only is anxiety prevalent, but there are also no preventive steps in place to ease it.
It seems that, until we break the silence on this subject, women are sure to keep on struggling. In part, this responsibility should fall on the medical world which is currently failing so many women. It has long been argued that doctors should partner with a counseling center like Focus Forward who offer loss counseling and could treat women who have miscarried on referral. But, the buck doesn’t altogether stop there.
It also seems that society, on the whole, needs to address this topic and the implications behind it. Without silence, after all, women won’t feel as though they have to suffer this alone. They’ll be able to tell their loved ones about a second pregnancy as soon as it happens. That in itself could ease the anxiety that so often comes during this difficult time.