Many people don’t realize the mental and psychological effects an abortion can have. Post-Abortion Stress (PAS) is defined as an individual’s struggle to express and work through thoughts and feelings about a pregnancy and a termination, and strive to come to peace with oneself and others. Symptoms are like those in any post-traumatic stress disorder and may involve psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual distress.
PAS is the ongoing inability to:
- Process the painful thoughts and emotions, particularly guilt, grief, and anger, which come from one or more pregnancy terminations.
- Identify or grieve the loss that has been experienced.
- Come to peace with oneself or others regarding the decision.
If you’ve had an abortion, whether recently or decades ago, and have discovered you’re experiencing emotions that you didn’t expect, Eden Clinic is here to help and support you through this time. The pain of this difficult decision can be immediate, or it can linger for years. It can affect your life in many ways including decisions in relationships and careers. You can receive compassionate and professional after-abortion counseling at either of our clinic locations.
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SYMPTOMS OF POST-ABORTION STRESS SYNDROME
Often when bad events happen in the future, the guilt she feels will cause her to believe that she “deserves” them.
A common reaction after an abortion is feeling tense and anxious. Some women have reported physical reactions, such as nausea, dizziness, accelerated heartbeat, and headaches. She may not be able to concentrate and have a difficult time sleeping. She may be anxious about the future, and not understand what is causing this feeling.
Avoiding children or pregnant women
Another common reaction for post-abortive women is to avoid pregnant women or children around the age their own child would have been. They may skip going to baby showers or other events that include pregnant women or children, avoid going down the baby aisle in a store, or go out of her way to avoid a playground.
Many women will deliberately shut down their emotions to avoid painful thoughts. She may stop seeing friends and even family members, especially if they are a reminder of the abortion. She would rather not feel at all than to feel the pain she has suffered. Sometimes she turns to drugs or alcohol to help numb the hurt.
Some post-abortive women think it would be better to die than to go on feeling the way they do. She may miss her lost child and think she could join them and hold them at last.
The anniversary of the aborted child’s due date or the date of the abortion can be a cause of horrible feelings for no apparent reason. Sometimes it takes years for a post abortive woman to realize that these dates are related to her abortion experience.
reliving the abortion
A woman who has gone through an abortion can suddenly re-experience the clinic and remember everything in her mind. Memories can be triggered by sounds such as a vacuum cleaner or a dentist’s drill. An annual Pap test can also bring back those painful memories. Other women experience nightmares in which children are involved, often in pain.
wanting to get pregnant again
It is normal to want to get pregnant again as soon as possible after any pregnancy loss. Some women hope to replace the child that was lost during the abortion. Others do so out of a desire to make sure that they can still have a baby, which can also be due to a FEAR OF INFERTILITY, another common reaction after an abortion.
inability to bond with other children
Some post-abortive women have guilt that is buried so deeply they don’t recognize it as such, but unconsciously become emotionally distant to their other children, fearing that they might somehow hurt them. This can also cause a FEAR THAT FUTURE CHILDREN WILL DIE. This can lead her to overprotect her children at an unhealthy level.
Anorexia and bulimia are common eating disorders for women who have had an abortion. These types of eating disorders can generally make her think that she can personally regulate her life, especially when she feels that her life is out of control.
alcohol and drug use
Many women who have had an abortion turn to alcohol or drugs as tranquilizers to numb their memories, calm their anxiety, and help them to sleep. Sadly, the overuse often leads to other problems, mentally, physically, and emotionally.