Psychological morbidity following miscarriage

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Apr;21(2):229-47. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2006.11.007. Epub 2007 Feb 20.


Emerging evidence has suggested that miscarriage could be associated with significant and possibly enduring psychological consequences. As many as 50% of miscarrying women suffer some form of psychological morbidity in the weeks and months after loss. About 40% of miscarrying women were found to be suffering from symptoms of grief shortly after miscarriage, and pathological grief can follow. Elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms are common, and major depressive disorder has been reported in 10-50% after miscarriage. Psychological symptoms could persist for 6 months to 1 year after miscarriage. The underlying risk factors predisposing a miscarrying woman to psychological morbidity include a history of psychiatric illness, childlessness, lack of social support or poor marital adjustment, prior pregnancy loss, and ambivalence toward the fetus. In addition, care-givers should be aware of the possible moderating effect of clinical practices such as surgical treatment and ultrasound findings on the psychological impact on a miscarrying woman. Unlike in postpartum depression, simple and effective screening measures of psychological morbidity in the context of miscarriage have not been well established. While studies have highlighted that psychological follow-up was highly desired by miscarrying women, and that psychological intervention was potentially beneficial, there is a substantial lack of randomized controlled intervention studies in this area.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy