About Post Abortive Syndrome
If you are reading this, chances are you've had an abortion. Maybe it was a week ago, a year ago, five years ago or even twenty. Many post-abortive women, even those who label themselves as pro-choice, struggle with a number of issues following the abortion.
Despite the prevalence of women having abortions in the United States (over 3000 abortions daily), discussions of the potential emotional effects are taboo. If my decision was my legal right, why am I even thinking about it? What are these emotions I am feeling and why? Is it just me? Does anyone understand what I am going through?
Theses issues can range from mild depression to suicidal thoughts and can also be linked to other emotional behaviors such as eating disorders, anger issues, relational problems, drug or alcohol abuse, exhaustion, guilt anxiety and self punishment. Millions of women have had abortions only to discover an emotional dilemma that won't go away.
You are not alone.
Post-Abortion Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A widely used term for such emotional problems is "post-abortion syndrome" or PAS. Post-Abortion Syndrome has been proposed as diagnosis subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when PTSD is the result of an abortion. The American Psychological Association (APA) does not recognize PAS as an actual diagnosis or condition; however the APA does acknowledge "...women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted and personally meaningful, who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion, or who have more conflicting feelings or are less sure of their decision before hand may be a relatively higher risk for negative consequences." (Adler NE, David HP, Major BN, Roth SH, Russo NF, Wyatt GE (1990). "Psychological responses after abortion". Science 248 (4951): 41–4. doi 10.1126/science.2181664. PMID 2181664.)
PTSD can occur when a person undergoes a traumatic experience which is beyond their normal ability to cope. This experience results in intense fear, feelings of helplessness or being trapped, or loss of control. Those who witness a violent death, or who experience physical injury or sexual assault (ie victims of rape or war) are at greatest risk for experiencing PTSD. Efforts to cope with these suppressed feelings can take on a life of their own, often resulting in abnormal behavior or personality disorders.
Post-Abortive Syndrome mirrors to PTSD when the trigger is an abortion. Whether a woman was coerced into the abortion (ie by boyfriend, spouse or parents) or had compelling reasons to have the abortion, she may be plagued by feelings of fear, anxiety, and pain about the procedure itself. These feeling are then compounded by guilt and anguish about the death of her child or children.
PAS can manifest itself in many forms:
- anxiety attacks
- outbursts of anger or rage
- aggressive behavior
- difficulty concentrating
- sleeping disorders
- recurrent thoughts about the abortion or the aborted child
- flashbacks to the procedure
- intense grief or depression on the anniversary date of the abortion
- repression and denial of feelings about the abortion, avoidance of activities which remind them of the abortion or pregnancy
- withdrawal from others involved in the abortion decision
- inability to maintain trusting or loving relationships
- chemical dependency
Did you check 'yes' to any of these in your head as you read the above list? If so, maybe consider learning more.
You are not alone. You are not unloved. God has never stopped loving you and wants you to love yourself again.