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Can Women Have Postpartum Depression After a Miscarriage?

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Updated September 15, 2009

Question: Can Women Have Postpartum Depression After a Miscarriage?

Ever since my miscarriage, I've been feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. My miscarriage was early, but is it possible that I am having postpartum depression? --Losing hope

Answer:

You're not alone. It is normal to feel grief, even intense grief, after a miscarriage -- even if the miscarriage happened just days after you found out you were pregnant. Most of us start planning for and expecting a baby and the whole future that comes along with that baby from the very instant we see the positive pregnancy test, and a sudden loss of the pregnancy is the loss of that entire future you were expecting with that baby. It's okay to be shaken and overwhelmed when something like that happens.

As for whether miscarriage grief can become postpartum depression, it is definitely possible that you could be clinically depressed in the aftermath of your miscarriage. The line between normal grief and depression requiring treatment can be hard to distinguish sometimes, as the two have nearly identical symptoms, but if your feelings are interfering with your ability to go about your daily routines for more than a few weeks after your miscarriage, it can be a good idea to talk to your doctor to see if you might benefit from further treatment. Even if you're just wondering whether you might need help, that's a good sign that you might at least benefit from talking to someone. You can decide together with your doctor whether the best intervention is medication or counseling, or a combination of the two. The right answer will likely depend on the circumstances.

In any case, don't be afraid to seek help in dealing with your loss if you feel you might need it -- and don't feel that there's anything wrong with you if you do need help in coping with your miscarriage. It's a lot to take. Best wishes to you.

Sources

Klier, C. "Minor depressive disorder in the context of miscarriage." Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 59, Issue 1, Pages 13-21.

LOK Ingrid H. and NEUGEBAUER Richard. "Psychological morbidity following miscarriage." Baillière's best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology 2007, vol. 21, no 2, pp. 229-247.

Patient information: Miscarriage. UpToDate. Accessed: Sept 14, 2009. http://www.uptodate.com/online/content/topic.do?topicKey=pregnan/5386&anchor=19#19

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