This week we published a pilot study on the psychological impact of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. We expected a high level of anxiety and depression in the women in the study – however we found that 38% of women in the study fullfilled the screening criteria for PTSD three months after the event. It is surprising that there are very few studies in this area – with thge previous largest study including later pregnancy events, making it hard to interpret the level of PTSD in early pregnancy.
The findings are potentially important, as PTSD if untreated has such a serious impact on so many aspects of life. Furthermore the treatment is specific and the condition is unlikely to be helped by general “counselling”. We believe that the answer will be to screen women for PTSD three months after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy to see if they have evidence of PTSD so they can be reviewed by a clinical psychologist. We are just finishing a much larger study on almost 800 women examining the same issue. From this we hope to identify the risk factors for developing PTSD so we can identify women ahead of time that are most likely to suffer from the condition – and so intervene early.
The paper can be read here as an open access publication with BMJ Open: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/11/e011864.full