No one can predict how a woman will react mentally to abortion. Some women that experience abortion have no immediate adverse reactions, while others struggle with feelings of sadness, grief, shame, and guilt. These feelings can range from mild to debilitating, begin immediately after an abortion or surface months or years later, and lead to mental health struggles.
Mental Health Struggles Following Abortion
Following an abortion, women are more likely to struggle with mental health disorders like:
- Substance use disorder
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal behavior
Mental health professionals have labeled these mental health struggles following an abortion as post-abortion stress syndrome or PASS. PASS becomes more likely with multiple abortions. Research is not clear why some women develop PASS while others do not, but the sudden cessation of pregnancy hormones after an abortion is thought to be involved.
Risk Factors for PASS
While no one can predict if a woman will struggle with PASS after an abortion, there are risk factors that may contribute. You may be at risk for PASS if you:
- Have cultural or religious beliefs or values that conflict with abortion
- Feel pressured to terminate your pregnancy (either by another person or your circumstances)
- Want to be a mother someday
- Don’t have a support system in place to help recover from the abortion
- Have a history of mental health disorders
Prioritize your mental health with the following tips:
- Get an ultrasound: Determine your eligibility for abortion options, the viability of your pregnancy.
- Seek options counseling: Get information about all your options and available resources so you can make an informed decision about the outcome of your pregnancy.
- Speak with a trusted friend or professional counselor to process your feelings about your pregnancy before you decide.
Let Us Help
If you are pregnant and unsure of your next steps, the Women’s Resource Center is here to help. Every appointment is free and confidential. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment.