Some women experience emotional side effects and can develop PTSD.
A mother’s heart is genetically designed to “protect their child at all costs.” Abortion can short-circuit that basic human instinct, leading to feelings of guilt. A common reaction for a woman who has had an abortion could be that the individual believes future bad events happen because they “deserve it” for making this choice.
Anxiety (i.e., anxiety attacks)
Many individuals state that after their abortion they started feeling tense and could not relax. Others outline physical reactions like dizziness, pounding heart, upset stomach, headaches. This may also include worrying about the future, struggling to concentrate, and not being able to sleep. It is often difficult to understand the source of anxiety.
Avoiding Children or Pregnant Women
Post-abortive people can avoid being near babies, pregnant women or children that would have been around the age of their aborted child. This Abortion PTSD avoidance behavior can include, but is not limited to: skipping baby showers, avoiding the baby aisle at the grocery store, walking around the block to avoid a playground, or making excuses to escape events that include children or pregnant women.
To avoid painful thoughts after abortion, many post-abortive people work to shut off their emotions. That could mean abandoning friendships and family, particularly if these individuals were a part of their abortion experience. When someone shuts down emotionally, they don’t feel sorrow or joy. Many turn to drugs or alcohol to assist in numbing these memories that result in guilt or anxiety.
Everyone is sad once in a while. Abortion PTSD can often lead individuals to feel gloomy. That can make the person feel hopeless and unlovable. They may cry uncontrollably for no reason and/or feel like they are going crazy. Perhaps they can’t eat or sleep. Others eat too much and sleep all day. The things they used to enjoy before their abortion are now avoided.
Thoughts of Suicide
Some post-abortive individuals get so sad that they think it would be easier to die than continue living. Others miss their lost child so much that they want to join them in order to hold them at last.
This “anniversary” can be the aborted child’s due date, or the date of the abortion. On these dates, individuals struggling with Abortion PTSD can feel horrible for no apparent reason. It can take years to realize these dates are related to their abortion experience.
Experiencing the Abortion Again
It is not unusual for the post-abortive person to be suddenly transported back to the abortion clinic and relive that experience in their minds. Memories can be triggered by simple sounds heard during the abortion procedure – like a vacuum cleaner or a dentist drill. For those who endured medical abortions, it can be the sound of a toilet flushing. Yearly OB/GYN physicals can also resurrect these memories. Others may experience ongoing nightmares involving children who are perhaps in pain. They can even have the same nightmare over and over again.
Wanting to Get Pregnant Again
Some women immediately attempt to get pregnant again as soon as possible if they experiencing Abortion PTSD. Most do so out of a desire to make sure they can still have a baby. Others hope to “replace” the life that was lost during the abortion.
Fear of Infertility
A common reaction for those struggling with Abortion PTSD is to worry about being able to get pregnant again. Many fear they have aborted the only child they will ever have. Others suspect the abortion could have mutilated their body in some way.
Unable to Bond with Present or Future Children
If the post-abortive person has children before or after the abortion, these family members can be a reminder of the person they aborted. This post-abortion symptom can result in the person distancing themselves at an emotional level or even abandoning the children, believing they are disqualified to be a parent.
Fear that Future Children Will Die
Some post-abortive people live in fear that children they had before or after the abortion could easily die. This fear can lead these parents to overprotect their children at an unhealthy level.
Episodes of anorexia or bulimia are common for post-abortive people. Some get fat or thin to avoid anyone wanting them at a sexual level as that could lead to another pregnancy decision. Eating is also something an individual can personally regulate when their life feels beyond their control.
Alcohol & Drug Use
Drugs and alcohol often serves as a tranquilizer that helps the post-abortive individual keep the memories of an abortion at a distance. Substance use can help calm anxiety and promote sleep. Sadly, the overuse of these elements can lead to other problems at a mental and physical level.
If someone has endured two or more of these situations/emotions, it could mean that their pain is centered on an abortion experience. If that is the case, an abortion recovery support program can help bring peace. The women who have gone through this program have experienced freedom and healing from their past abortion.
If you have experienced a previous abortion, please know we care deeply and are here for you! PACE (Post Abortion Care and Encouragement) is a multi-faceted program designed to coach or counsel you to a deeper level of healing and forgiveness.
This program is completely confidential and is often led by women who have had previous abortions who can relate, have experienced healing themselves, and would love to help you through this process.
Please give us a call at (678) 753-3180 and ask to speak with our Director of Client Services or you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.