Women who go through an abortion sometimes suffer from a type of post-traumatic stress disorder known as post abortion syndrome. This is a very significant mental illness that must be properly addressed. This is why most clinics now offer significant counseling for abortion before and after the procedure as well.
About Post Abortion Syndrome
The symptoms of post abortion syndrome are well-documented. They include:
1. Guilt, often for violating their own moral code. Many women, at some point, feel that they have killed their child and this goes against a woman’s natural instincts to protect her children.
2. Anxiety. This includes physical and psychological symptoms. Many women start to avoid babies and everything that relates to them after an abortion in order to avoid feelings of anxiety.
3. Psychological ‘numbing’, which means women subconsciously stop themselves from feeling things anymore. While this is a self-defense mechanism to avoid the emotional pain of an abortion, it also often means that they cut themselves off from everybody, including themselves.
4. Depression, sometimes leading to suicidal thoughts. It is very important to closely monitor a woman who has gone through with an abortion for depression, which is something most clinics will do.
5. Anniversary syndrome, which has been studied to be present in 54% of women who have had an abortion. It essentially means that, on the anniversary of the abortion, or the anniversary of the due date of the child, their post abortion syndrome symptoms get worse.
6. Flashbacks of the abortion, which are also very common. These tend to happen during gynecological exams, although some women experience them whenever they hear a suction sound. Nightmares are also very common.
7. Pregnancy preoccupation. Many women try to have what is known as the ‘atonement baby’. They either fall pregnant again with a year of the abortion, or they speak constantly about wanting a baby.
8. Anxiety over childbearing and fertility issues, where women believe they will no longer be able to fall pregnant ever again, with many believing this is a ‘punishment from god’.
9. Problems bonding with other children. Some women who have an abortion already have children and suddenly find it more difficult to relate to them. Others struggle with these feelings in future children, or both.
10. Survival guilt, which has to do with them feeling guilty about choosing themselves over their unborn child, something that again goes against a woman’s natural instincts.
11. Eating disorders, which is often a way of coping with many of the above feelings, but particularly guilt.
12. Substance abuse, which is done in an effort to numb the feelings of psychological distress.
13. Punishing yourself, be that through promiscuity or abusive relationships, or by no longer looking after yourself, or even self-harming.
14. Psychosis, which is really rare, but not unheard of. Here, a woman loses complete touch with reality. It is believed to be related to post-partum psychosis, which happens after the birth of a child in very rare cases.