Study finds women who suffer miscarriage highly likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder
Researchers from Imperial College London found that almost 4 in every 10 women who suffered miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, developed PTSD three months after suffering the loss.
The study examined 113 women. Most of the women in the study had suffered a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, and about 20 percent had suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
Of the women who suffered a miscarriage, 45 per cent reported PTSD symptoms, compared to 18 per cent of the women who suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by stressful, frightening or distressing events, and causes people to relive the event though nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts or images that appear at unwanted moments.
Sufferers of PTSD frequently report sleeping problems and feelings of anger or depression.
In this study, the women described re-experiencing the feelings associated with the pregnancy loss, and suffering intrusive or unwanted thoughts about their miscarriage.
A third said their symptoms had impacted on their work life, and around 40 per cent reported their relationships with friends and family had been affected.
The research team behind the study say the findings suggest women should be routinely screened for the condition, and receive specific psychological support following pregnancy loss.
Lead author of the study, Dr Jessica Farren said:
"We were surprised at the high number of women who experienced symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss. At the moment there is no routine follow-up appointment for women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. We have checks in place for postnatal depression, but we don't have anything in place for the trauma and depression following pregnancy loss."
"Yet the symptoms that may be triggered can have a profound effect on all aspects of a woman's everyday life, from her work to her relationships with friends and family."
In Ireland, 50,000 women give birth every year. It is believed that a further 14,000 women miscarry. An ectopic pregnancy is much rarer. This situation occurs when the fertilised ovum implants outside of the womb, ie. in a tube or near an ovary.
The study was funded by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity.