Abortion Depression Symptoms

11 Hidden Abortion Depression Symptoms You Must Know About

Writen By: Huma Khan
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: October 5, 2023

Have you ever wondered about something important that many people don’t talk about much? Well, that’s the case with abortion depression symptoms. When someone decides to have an abortion, it can sometimes lead to feelings of sadness and depression afterward. In this blog, we’re going to explore what those symptoms might look like.

Abortion is a tough choice. It’s normal to feel all sorts of emotions when making that decision. But what happens if, after an abortion, you start feeling really down and sad? Is it connected? That’s what we’re going to dig into in this blog. When it comes to abortion, we often overlook the emotional and mental well-being of those involved.

According to a 2011 British Journal of Psychiatry study, 81% of women who had an abortion experienced significant changes in their mental health. This statistic is a powerful reminder that the impact of abortion on mental well-being is something we should pay attention to. Our mission here is to address the topic of post-abortion depression, explore its symptoms, and offer treatment and resources on how to overcome this condition. Don’t miss out on our 14 helpful tips to overcome abortion depression symptoms. We want to provide support and understanding for anyone who has experienced these emotions after an abortion. So, together, let’s begin our journey into understanding depression after abortion.

What Is Abortion Depression?

Abortion depression, also referred to as post-abortion depression, is a mental health condition that can affect individuals after undergoing an abortion procedure. It encompasses a range of emotional and psychological responses that may emerge following an abortion experience. While the topic of abortion itself is deeply controversial and often laden with moral, ethical, and political considerations, it is very important to acknowledge and discuss its potential mental health impact openly.

Abortion depression is characterized by a complex interplay of emotions, including sadness, guilt, grief, and even anxiety, which can manifest in various ways. It’s crucial to highlight that post-abortion depression can impact individuals, regardless of their personal beliefs about choosing abortion. The emotional aftermath of an abortion can be profound and unique to each person, and recognizing and addressing these feelings is essential for overall mental well-being.

In a society where discussions surrounding abortion can be polarized and fraught with stigma, having an open and empathetic conversation about abortion depression is vital. This article aims to provide insight into this often-neglected aspect of abortion-related mental health, shedding light on the experiences of those who may be silently dealing with their emotions and seeking understanding and support.

Prevalence of Abortion Depression

According to the 2008 American Psychological Association report, Mental Health and Abortion: A Review of the Research Literature, the prevalence of post-abortion depression is estimated to be between 6% and 10%. It is important to note that this report is based on a review of research available at the time of publication. Since then, new studies on post-abortion depression have emerged. Some suggest higher prevalence rates than previously estimated by the APA, while others indicate similar or lower rates.

It is worth mentioning that the prevalence of abortion depression symptoms can vary depending on the population being studied. For example, some studies have found that the prevalence of abortion depression symptoms is higher among women who are younger, who have lower levels of education, and who have a history of mental health problems. This is likely due to the fact that these women may be more vulnerable to the stressors associated with abortion.

Another study in 2016 reveals that after spontaneous abortion, depression prevalence in Asian populations is notably high at 18.6%, surpassing the rate in pregnant women, which stands at 9.5%. The study also suggested that other factors like social support, coping abilities, and personal mental health history may contribute to depression after abortion.

Overall, the research on the prevalence of abortion depression symptoms is mixed. However, it is clear that the majority of women may not experience this condition, but there are some women who do experience depression after an abortion. If you are considering an abortion or have already had an abortion and are experiencing depression, please know that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with the emotional challenges of this experience.

Common Abortion Depression Symptoms

For women who have undergone an abortion, the emotional aftermath can be a profoundly challenging experience. It’s essential to recognize that the grieving process and emotional responses to abortion can be intense and unique to each individual. Common abortion depression symptoms include:

1. Excessive Sadness, Emptiness, or Anxiety

After an abortion, it’s common to experience an overwhelming sense of sadness, as if a heavy cloud hangs over you. This sadness may show up as unexplained crying spells, a feeling of emptiness, or heightened anxiety about the decision made. You continuously blame yourself for making the immoral decision to end a life.

For example, after an abortion, you might notice that you cry a lot and that something is missing from your life. You can’t get rid of the anxiety about whether you made the right choice. You may consider it unethical and blame yourself for the decision, unable to forgive yourself.

2. Loss of Interest in Enjoyable Activities 

Things that used to be fun are no longer as appealing.  Favorite pastimes, social events, or hobbies all suddenly seem less interesting or meaningful. You find it difficult to find joy in things that used to make you smile because they now seem uninteresting and dull.

For example, You used to love painting, but after your abortion, you couldn’t find the enthusiasm to pick up your brushes or visit art galleries like you used to.

3. Difficulty Concentrating, Thinking, or Making Decisions

Your thinking may be impaired by post-abortion depression. Making decisions seems like an impossible task, and easy tasks become difficult.

For example, it’s like you’re trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle, but some important pieces are missing. Your thoughts are all over the place, and even deciding on the smallest things feels really hard. It’s like having a cloudy mind that won’t let you see things clearly.

4. Disturbed Sleep and Fatigue

Sleep patterns may be disrupted after abortion, causing either insomnia, i.e., difficulty falling or staying asleep, or over sleepiness, leading to excessive fatigue. Sometimes, vivid, distressing flashbacks or nightmares related to the abortion may haunt a person’s sleep and daily life.

For example, you may begin experiencing vivid nightmares about the abortion, causing you to wake up in cold sweats, reliving the experience. These nightmares disrupt your sleep and haunt your waking hours. The lack of restful sleep leaves you feeling drained during the day.

Alternatively, you might find yourself napping frequently throughout the day yet never feeling fully rested, making it challenging to engage in daily activities.

5. Changes in Appetite

Changes in appetite are another symptom of abortion depression, with some women experiencing significant weight gain or loss as a result of their emotional turmoil.

For example, you may find yourself eating much more than usual, often turning to comfort foods or snacks to soothe your emotions. Or you may experience a loss of appetite, find food unappealing, or even experience nausea, resulting in weight loss.

6. Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt

After having an abortion, many people feel unbearable guilt and worthlessness and begin to doubt their morality and self-worth.

For example, there is a constant weight on your chest and a voice in your head that constantly warns you that you have done something terribly wrong. You question your worth and whether you deserve happiness.

7. Thoughts of Death or Suicide

In severe cases, post-abortion depression may lead to thoughts of death or suicide. These thoughts are a clear indication that professional help is urgently needed.

For example, after your abortion, you begin to have thoughts of ending your life because you can’t bear the emotional pain any longer. These thoughts become persistent and overwhelming, filling your mind with despair.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a nationwide network of more than 200 crisis centers that offers people in the US who are experiencing emotional distress or suicidal ideation 24/7 free and private emotional support.

Here are some ways to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for you or your loved one:

  • Call 988
  • Text HOME to 741741
  • Chat with a crisis counselor online at 988lifeline.org

8. Recurring Thoughts

It’s common for individuals to have persistent thoughts about abortion, replaying the events and the decision in their minds repeatedly.

For example, you couldn’t help but think about the abortion every day, wondering if you could have done something differently to change the outcome. Think of a mental loop that replays the abortion over and over. It’s like a movie you can’t stop watching, with scenes of doubt, regret, and what-ifs.

9. Isolation and Withdrawal

Many women who have gone through abortion isolate themselves, leading to withdrawal from social connections. To cope with the emotional pain, individuals may avoid any reminders of the abortion, such as people, places, or even conversations about the topic.

For example, you may start avoiding your friends who are aware of the abortion, fearing that they might bring it up in conversation that may trigger painful memories. You may stay away from anyone or anything that reminds you of the abortion.

10. Emotional Detachment from Others

Post-abortion depression can lead to emotional detachment from loved ones, making it difficult to connect with friends, family, or a partner. You may feel like no one can truly understand what you are going through, so you retreat into your own world of sorrow. 

For example, after your abortion, you may feel emotionally distant from your partner, unable to engage in the deep conversations you used to have.  It’s like a wall has gone up, making it hard to connect or share your true feelings.

11. Physical Symptoms

Depression after abortion can also manifest as physical symptoms, including chronic fatigue, headaches, or stomach aches. Even though these physical symptoms may last for a long time, there is no known medical reason for them. 

For example, you may wake up each day with a heavy body, feeling drained and achy. These ongoing physical symptoms add to the emotional stress you already experience.

It’s important to note that the duration and intensity of these abortion depression symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Some may experience these symptoms for a limited time, while others may struggle with them for an extended period. Recognizing these symptoms and understanding that they are valid responses to a deeply emotional experience is essential.

By acknowledging and addressing these symptoms, individuals can take the first step toward healing and seek the support and resources they need. It’s also essential for friends, family, and healthcare providers to recognize the signs of abortion depression and offer understanding and assistance to those who are suffering. Ultimately, understanding and recognizing these symptoms can be instrumental in facilitating emotional recovery and well-being.

Are Post-Abortion Depression and Post-Abortion Syndrome the Same?

Post-abortion depression and post-abortion syndrome (PAS) are not the same thing. Post-abortion depression is a real and recognized mental health condition, while PAS is a controversial term that is not widely accepted by the medical community.

Post-abortion depression is a type of major depressive disorder that can occur after an abortion. It is characterized by the same symptoms as other types of depression, while Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is a term used to describe a range of emotional and psychological symptoms that some individuals claim to experience following an abortion.

Some reported symptoms associated with PAS include:

  • Grief
  • Regret
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Guilty feelings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nightmares or flashbacks

It’s important to remember that individuals may have unique emotional responses to abortion, and these feelings can vary from person to person. Seeking professional help from a mental health provider who specializes in reproductive and abortion-related concerns can provide valuable support and guidance for those experiencing distress.

Can Abortion Cause Depression?

Scientific research on the subject is difficult because abortion is a controversial issue. The mental effects of abortion cannot be studied in a random, double-blind fashion. This would entail aborting a random sample of individuals. Therefore, it would be very unethical to conduct this kind of research on the issue. 

The only type of research that is currently accessible on the issue is observational. In light of this, a 2015 study revealed that having an abortion does not always indicate a future risk of developing a mood disorder. This does not imply that depression cannot exist in people who have had abortions. A person may feel less able to cope if they are experiencing sadness, stress, or a sense of loss, depending on their circumstances. These may lead to depression.

A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, which analyzed data from 877,000 women, found that those who had an abortion were 37% more likely to experience depression.

According to a 2008 report by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), women who had abortions did experience emotions like grief, sadness, anxiety, and depression. However, the APA didn’t directly blame the abortion for these emotions. They believed that whether a woman had an abortion or kept the pregnancy, these emotional challenges would likely be similar. The reasons behind seeking an abortion might be linked to these feelings, but they weren’t seen as causing them.

The American Psychological Association has noted a few typical causes of depression following an abortion. They consist of:

  • Lack of social support and perceived stigma
  • a background of mental health issues
  • character qualities like low self-esteem
  • characteristics of the pregnancy, such as whether the woman desired it or not

Another 2015 study, however, found that depression caused by abortions need not necessarily be more severe than depression brought on by having to carry an unintended pregnancy to term.

Researchers presented further data from a 2018 study involving around 400,000 Danish women. The findings suggested that while antidepressant usage is more common among women who have had abortions, other factors are likely to be to blame for the increased risk. 

The researchers draw the conclusion that inaccurate studies may have led to policies supporting the notion that abortion is harmful to women’s mental health. 

In short, the relationship between abortion and depression is complex and varies among individuals. While some may experience sadness or depression after an abortion, research suggests that the act of having an abortion itself may not be the direct cause. Multiple factors, including social support, personal history, and circumstances, contribute to emotional responses, making it difficult to conclusively say that abortion directly causes depression for everyone.

Factors Contributing to Abortion Depression

Several factors may contribute to the development of abortion depression symptoms, making it a deeply individualized experience. Dr. Debra Mollen, who specializes in abortion and reproductive rights, said, “It’s important for people to know that abortion does not cause mental health problems. What can be harmful are the negative attitudes about abortion, the lack of information, and limited access to it.”

Let’s take a look at various factors that contribute to abortion depression symptoms:

  • Emotional Attachment to the Pregnancy: A strong emotional connection to the pregnancy, even if the decision to have an abortion was considered necessary, can lead to feelings of loss and grief.
  • Conflicting Emotions: Many individuals experience conflicting emotions before and after an abortion. The internal struggle between relief and grief can contribute to post-abortion depression.
  • Doubting the decision: If there are unresolved feelings or doubts about the abortion decision, it can contribute to ongoing emotional distress.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones during and after pregnancy termination can affect mood regulation, potentially triggering depressive symptoms.
  • Past Trauma: Individuals with a history of trauma, including prior experiences of loss or emotional distress, may be more susceptible to experiencing depression after an abortion, as it can reignite unresolved emotional wounds.
  • Lack of Access to Counseling: Limited access to professional counseling services can leave individuals without proper emotional support, exacerbating their depressive feelings.
  • Perceived Judgment: The fear of being judged or criticized by others, whether real or perceived, can intensify feelings of guilt and shame, contributing to post-abortion depression.
  • Personal Beliefs: A person’s beliefs, values, and moral or ethical perspectives on abortion can influence how they process and cope with the experience.
  • Circumstances: The circumstances surrounding the decision to have an abortion, such as financial pressures, relationship dynamics, or health concerns, can play a significant role in shaping emotional responses.
  • Support Systems: The presence or absence of a supportive network, which may include friends, family, or healthcare providers, can significantly influence how individuals manage their emotions following an abortion.
  • Access to Resources: Access to mental health resources and counseling services can be pivotal in helping individuals cope with the emotional aftermath of abortion.
  • Stigma and Societal Attitudes: The stigma associated with abortion and societal attitudes toward this choice can contribute to feelings of isolation and guilt.
  • Previous Mental Health: A person’s history of mental health concerns or previous experiences with depression may influence their vulnerability to abortion depression.

It is important to recognize that these factors interact in complex ways, and individuals may experience abortion depression differently. By understanding these factors and acknowledging their role, we can begin to address the emotional challenges associated with abortion and work towards providing appropriate support and resources for those in need.

 Treatment Options

  • Therapy and Counseling: Psychotherapy, including individual or group counseling, provides a safe space for individuals to explore and process their emotions related to abortion. Therapists offer guidance and coping strategies to help individuals manage their symptoms effectively.
  • Medication: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with abortion depression. Medication is typically used in conjunction with therapy.
  • Support Groups: Joining support groups specifically tailored to individuals who have experienced abortion can offer a sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences and emotions with others who have been through similar situations can be profoundly therapeutic.

Treatment options for abortion depression symptoms are multifaceted, allowing individuals to choose the approach that best suits their needs and preferences. The path to healing is unique for each person, but seeking support and assistance is a critical step toward emotional recovery.

Depression After Abortion Should Not Be Ignored! 14 Tips To Cope With It

Even today, choosing to have an abortion is difficult and can result in mental health issues such as depression. This is how you can handle depression after abortion.

1. Talk to your family members: Share your feelings with friends, family, or coworkers to help you de-stress, as confiding in them is preferable.

2. Don’t cut yourself off from people: Avoid isolation to avoid worsening your situation and blaming yourself. Stay connected with loved ones and limit your alone time.

3. Choose counseling if it’s necessary: Seeking professional help can alleviate unease, improve quality of life, and maintain composure when other options fail.

4. Don’t succumb to pressure from others: Despite pressure from friends, family, or relationships, it’s crucial to remember that abortion is a personal decision and disregard any advice to the contrary.

5. Take utmost care of yourself: Maintain a healthy diet, exercise routine, get enough sleep, and avoid anxiety or depression. Talk to someone about your decision, and be firm about it.

6. Education and Counseling: Comprehensive education about the potential emotional impact of abortion can help individuals make informed decisions. Pre-abortion counseling can also provide emotional support and coping strategies.

7. Strong Support System: Building a support network of friends, family, or support groups can be instrumental in coping with abortion-related emotions. Having people who understand and empathize can provide valuable emotional support.

8. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Engaging in mindfulness exercises and relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, can help manage stress and anxiety.

9. Avoiding Self-Blame: Understanding that emotional responses to abortion are complex and individualized can help individuals avoid self-blame or guilt.

10. Coping Plans: Developing coping plans or strategies with the guidance of a mental health professional can provide a roadmap for managing emotional challenges.

11. Supportive Online Communities: Exploring online forums or communities dedicated to abortion-related emotional support can offer a sense of connection and understanding.

12. Acceptance: It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and what you’ve been through. Accept that it’s okay to feel sad or upset. This is the first step towards healing.

13. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and emotions in a journal can help you process your feelings. It’s like having a conversation with yourself on paper.

14. Positive Affirmation: Practice saying positive things to yourself. These affirmations can boost your self-esteem and remind you that you are strong and capable.

How To Find Help Outside Of The United States

There are significant regional differences in access to abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights provides additional details on abortion regulations around the world, in addition to a map you may use to verify the regulations in your nation.

For a recommendation to a nearby clinic if you live in Canada, call the National Abortion Federation hotline at 877-257-0012.

If you live in the UK, British Pregnancy Advisory Services can provide you with more details regarding your abortion alternatives. They also offer assistance and services for abortions to patients from other countries.

Additional Resources:

  • Exhale Pro-Voice is a text line that offers peer counseling for people who have had abortions and their loved ones, as well as training on how to provide support after an abortion.
  • H3Helpline is a national after abortion helpline that provides support and healing for the pain of abortion. They offer help, hope, and healing to anyone who is struggling after an abortion. helpline coaches are trained to help with a variety of issues, including depression, grief, and anger.
  • Our compassionate and non-judgmental abortion helpline coaches are available to assist you in your recovery, so don’t hesitate to contact us today.
  • Connect & Breathe is a confidential talkline that provides unbiased support and encouragement for self-care, regardless of an individual’s or their loved one’s abortion experience.

Books For Abortion Depression Symptoms

The Healing Choice: Candace De Puy and Dana Dovitch’s Healing Choice is a guide for women dealing with abortion’s emotional aftermath, offering a step-by-step process, self-tests, exercises, and interviews.

Forbidden Grief: Forbidden Grief is a hardcover book that addresses the emotional needs of over 30 million women who have had abortions, highlighting the stifling of discussion and isolation caused by social taboos.

Unexpected Choice: Unexpected Choice is a memoir by Dr. Patricia Giebink, a pro-life abortion doctor, detailing the risks and realities of abortion, her encounter with God, and her prayers.

Living In Color: Living in Color is a post-abortion recovery program for small groups or individuals, addressing “forbidden grief” and offering emotional responses, life lessons, and celebrations of one’s recovery.

Dealing With Guilt After an Abortion: This book offers a comprehensive guide on coping with guilt after an abortion, addressing emotional responses, healing, reflection sessions, and positive affirmations for women.

Conclusion

In my experience, it’s evident that abortion depression symptoms are a real concern that individuals may encounter following an abortion. We’ve delved into the various ways in which depression can manifest as a result of such a decision.

We’ve explored how depression, with its array of emotional and psychological symptoms, can affect individuals who have undergone an abortion. Recognizing these symptoms and seeking support is crucial for those navigating this complex emotional terrain.

In the end, what matters is that we comprehend the significance of giving those experiencing abortion depression symptoms empathy, support, and access to mental health resources. This understanding can help create a more compassionate and inclusive environment for individuals facing these challenges.

FAQ’s

Q1. What Are the Psychological Effects of Spontaneous Abortion?

The psychological effects of abortion can be significant.  According to various research studies, spontaneous abortion negatively impacts women’s mental health. Up to 27% of women with prenatal sadness and more than 18% of women who expressed moderate anxiety showed signs of depression. 

Q2. How Long Can a Mental Breakdown Last?

The duration of a mental breakdown varies widely among individuals, but it can range from a few hours to several weeks. It’s essential to seek professional help for timely intervention and recovery.

Q3. Can abortions damage the uterus?

In rare cases, abortion procedures may pose a low risk of uterine damage, such as uterine perforation, where the uterus is accidentally punctured. However, these instances are infrequent and mostly occur during surgical abortions. When performed by qualified healthcare providers in safe, regulated settings, the risk is minimized. It’s important to seek care from reputable healthcare providers who follow medical guidelines to ensure safety during abortions.