POST ABORTION GRIEF | Effects of Abortion | Abortion Side Effects
Women experiencing post abortion grief are typically unable to work through their emotional responses to abortion. The most common effects of abortion grief may include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, low self-esteem, emotional numbing and re-living the abortion through dreams or flashbacks.
If you answered three or more of the questions “yes” from the ‘Does it Affect You?” Post Abortion Grief questionnaire; or if you felt angry, or upset or had an emotional or physical response to any of them, you may be suffering from Post Abortion Grief.
Post Abortion Grief develops when a woman is unable to work through her emotional responses resulting from the experience of an abortion.
This may occur within a few hours following an abortion, or it may not surface until many years later! Women may be afraid to talk about it, may feel great shame about their abortion, and may not even realize how it is affecting them. Many women are even afraid to talk about their abortion to their doctor or counselor. Some women state that they are “okay” or that “it was the best decision they could have made for that time in their life”; but sometimes life experiences can “trigger” some latent feelings.
If you are struggling after your abortion, no matter how long ago it may have been, please call the Abortion Recovery Centre at 780-454-5911.
Symptoms of Post Abortion Stress
- Generalized Guilt
- Generalized Anxiety
- Denial and Repression: The ‘pushing down’ of intolerable emotions surrounding the abortion.
- Psychological Numbing: A diminishing ability to experience emotions of any kind
- Depression: Generalized feelings of hopelessness.
- Regret and Remorse: Regarding the abortion experience.
- Flashbacks: To the abortion episode.
- Specific or nonspecific sense of Grief and Loss
- Anger: Specifically towards those who helped make the abortion decision.
- Change in Relationship with the boyfriend or husband: Particularly if he was involved during the abortion experience.
- Disruption in Interpersonal Relationships: Increasing inability to be intimate and disclosing with friends.
- Psychosexual Disorder
- Avoidance Behaviors: Avoiding any person or situation (pregnant friends, infants, vaginal exams, etc.), that could trigger re-experiencing the abortion experience.
- Suicidal Ideation and Attempts
- Survival Guilt: Often leading to an unrealistic ‘compensation mode’ mentality.
- Sudden and Uncontrollable Crying Episodes: The source of which may be a mystery to the woman.
- Surprise at the Intensity of Reaction: To the abortion experience.
- Feelings of Helplessness and Powerlessness: A sense of panic over being ‘out of control’.
- Deterioration of Self-Concept: Inconsolable feelings of unworthiness.
- Nightmares: Usually involving themes of lost, dismembered, or crying babies.
- Hyper-alertness: Exaggerated physical responses to environmental cues, which may be somewhat reminiscent of the abortion experience (e.g. sound of vacuum cleaner).
- Preoccupation with Becoming Pregnant Again: The subsequent pregnancy becoming a replacement for the aborted baby.
- Anxiety over Infertility: Fear that God will punish by preventing future pregnancies.
- Interruption of the Bonding Process in Present or Future Children: Overly invested in being the perfect mother, or an altered value attached to the child, or children, who were ‘allowed’ to live.
- Reaction Formation: Usually expressed by an overly zealous involvement in pro-life / pro-choice issues.
- Disturbance in Sleep Patterns
- Development of Eating Disorders: Weight loss or gain associated with feeling unattractive, thus helping to insure against a possible future pregnancy, or anorexia leading to your period stopping, also preventing a future pregnancy.
- Alcohol or Substance Abuse: Begun as self-medication for the purpose of dulling painful emotions.
- Anniversary Syndrome: An increase of symptoms occurring around the anniversary of the abortion or due date of the aborted baby.
- Inappropriate Preoccupation with Physical Symptoms
- Phantom Child Syndrome: Fetal fantasies
- Brief Psychosis: Loss of reality lasting for a period of a few days