What Are the Mental Health Effects of Abortion?

What Are the Mental Health Effects of Abortion?

 The stigma that sometimes surrounds mental health issues may make it hard to admit that you are struggling.

If you are wrestling with depression, anxiety, or shame, you might feel as though you are somehow more deviant than the rest of the population who “doesn’t share your struggle.”

The truth is more likely that others do share your struggle.

In fact, if you suffer mentally, you may be more likely in the majority rather than the minority because the CDC reports that more than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental health illness in their lifetime. And those are just the ones who admit their struggles to a physician.

Most likely, the average person has some sort of mental struggle–even if they don’t talk about it.

This is often also true in the arena of psychological struggle after an abortion.

In 1992, the Journal of Social Issues dedicated an entire issue to the psychological effects of induced abortion. In an overview of the contributors’ papers, the editor, Dr. Gregory Wilmoth, concluded,

There is now virtually no disagreement among researchers that some women experience negative psychological reactions post-abortion.

What are the Mental Health Effects For Post-abortive Women?

A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that there were dramatic changes in mental health in women who had an abortion. The study examined medical information from 877,000 women, of which 164,000 had an abortion; the women who had an abortion were 81 percent more likely to experience mental health struggles.

They were:

  • 34% more likely to develop an anxiety disorder
  • 37% more likely to experience depression
  • 110% more likely to abuse alcohol
  • 155% more likely to commit suicide
  • 220% more likely to abuse marijuana

A more recent study published in 2016, found that abortion was associated with higher rates of mental health disorders after adjusting for other pregnancy outcomes and sociodemographic differences.

It is clear that abortion can truly make an impact on a woman’s mental health.

Common psychological side effects post-abortion can include:

  • Wondering “What If
  • Regret and shame
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anger towards those associated with the abortion
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nightmares
  • Addictions to drugs or alcohol
  • Self-harming behaviors like eating disorders and cutting

What Are the Mental Health Effects for Post-abortive Men?

Women are not the only ones who can suffer from mental health issues after an abortion. Men can also deeply struggle with grief and inner turmoil.

The Deveber Institute for bioethics and social research published a book about the effects of abortion on women and men. Here is what they found:

A number of studies point to the fact that men often experience depression, guilt, anger, grief, and shame after their partner has an abortion, feelings commonly experienced by the woman herself.

On the other hand, men often push women to have an abortion, and in these cases, their initial reaction is relief; in later therapy, however, some of these men demonstrate symptoms of distress, guilt, and grief. It is well documented that a large percentage of unmarried relationships dissolve after an abortion, sometimes because the woman feels that she and her baby have been abandoned and sometimes because the man has not been consulted and feels powerless.

How Can You Heal Mentally After an Abortion?

The good news is that there is hope for healing after an abortion. You do not have to struggle with inner turmoil forever.

Here are a few things you can do to start the healing process:

  • Share your story with a trusted friend, counselor, or mentor. Let them encourage and walk the stages of grief with you.
  • Accept how you feel and don’t brush it aside.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Find stress-relieving activities.
  • Contact our clinic to find support and meet other women and men who have experienced healing and hope after an abortion.

Your abortion may be done, but your story is still unfolding. This next chapter doesn’t have to be one wrought with mental turmoil. Reach out today! We are here to help.

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