Losing a baby through miscarriage is without a doubt, one of the most difficult experiences that women will endure. There are no words to describe the emotional roller coaster and depth of despair that a woman will go through. When hope and expectations for the future shifts suddenly to “how do I cope with this loss?” – confusion, shock, numbness, guilt, anger, and depression can kick in all at once.
Whether it has been your first pregnancy, you had children before experiencing a miscarriage, or you now have a child after having experienced a miscarriage; postpartum depression after miscarriage is common. The grief that you are feeling is real – and no matter how early in the pregnancy you experienced the loss of a baby, you might feel that loss deeply.
Studies on depression after miscarriage:
There have been several studies that relate to misperceptions about miscarriage as well as those that pertain to postpartum depression after miscarriage. In sharing these studies and statistics, I hope to inform you that you are not alone, that what you are experiencing is normal, and helping you know that your miscarriage was not your fault.
There are close to a million miscarriages that happen in the United States each year. According to Einstein, miscarriages end one in every four pregnancies. In May of 2015, a survey of 1,084 adults in the United States found that there are widespread misperceptions about miscarriages and the causes of them. 
“Miscarriage is a traditionally taboo subject that is rarely discussed publicly,” said Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Einstein and Montefiore. “We initiated this survey to assess what the general public knew about miscarriage and its causes and how miscarriage affects them emotionally.”
The results of the survey found that because miscarriage is common, yet rarely discussed, many people naturally feel isolated and alone after having suffered a miscarriage. 22% of survey participants incorrectly believed that their lifestyle choices during pregnancy are the single most common cause of a miscarriage. A whopping 76% of participants believed that prolonged stress can cause a miscarriage, and 21% believed that getting into an argument could cause a miscarriage.
A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry finds that feelings of anxiety and depression following a miscarriage can last for almost 3 years after the birth of a healthy baby. 
“Health providers and women themselves think that once they have a healthy baby after a loss, all would be fine and that any anxiety, fears, or depression would go away, but that is simply not the case,” says study researcher Emma Robertson Blackmore, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “I honestly thought that once a woman had a baby or had gone past the stage of her previous loss, the anxiety and depression would go way, but these feelings persist.”
The study showed, that of the women who had a previous miscarriage or stillbirth, 13% were still experiencing symptoms of depression almost 3 years later, and about 19% of women who had two previous pregnancy losses were still depressed 33 months after.
So how do you know if what you are feeling is “normal” depression or something more serious?
Although no one can outline set parameters, most people would agree that there is an “expected” period for normal grief. It is certainly normal to feel confused, shocked, numb, angry, guilty, and yes, even depressed. Postpartum depression after miscarriage is not only common and understandable; it is also very treatable.
While it’s normal to mourn the loss of your baby — and important to come to terms with it your own way — you should also start to gradually feel better as time passes. However, if you notice that feelings of sadness have been affecting your everyday life and persists beyond several weeks, you’re not functioning the same, not sleeping, or obsessing about your current pregnancy, you might want to seek professional support.
If you have had a miscarriage, I implore you to take a few moments to fill out this questionnaire. The results will go a long way towards helping other women know what to expect and help make the process, should they be going through it, a little less frightening.
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Survey Finds Miscarriage Widely Misunderstood. Einstein. Accessed: 12 January, 2016.
- Emma Robertson Blackmore, PhD, Denise Côté-Arsenault, PhD, et al. Previous prenatal loss as a predictor of perinatal depression and anxiety. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 May; 198(5): 373–378.