Women who miscarry may feel grief, guilt and anger years after their loss, a University of Queensland researcher has found.
UQ’s School of Population Health’s Dr Ingrid Rowlands said that emotional distress could continue for some time, but women who had miscarried were not at greater risk of depression than other women.
“It is important to distinguish between grief reactions and anxiety or depression,” Dr Rowlands said.
“For many women, the difficult process of coping with feelings after a miscarriage is not a sign of mental health problems, but rather a sign of emotional strength and resilience, as they slowly learn to deal with their reactions to this upsetting life event.
“Miscarriage occurs in about one in five pregnancies and is a deeply distressing event but, with time and support, the majority of women get through it and find equilibrium.”
Dr Rowlands and her team used questionnaires and interviews to draw data from one of the biggest studies conducted on Australian women, the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, which has examined the health of more than 57,000 Australian women since 1996.
She said she hoped the research would help improve support for women who miscarried.
“These findings highlight the need for families and health professionals to give women the time and opportunity to grieve after pregnancy loss, before considering treatment for depression or anxiety,” she said.
Dr Rowland’s findings are published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.
(Source: The University of Queensland, British Journal of Health Psychology)