Depression After Abortion

Mood changes after abortion is natural. Earlier your body was getting used to being pregnant, now it is getting used to being not pregnant. This shift could be too much for your hormones and could make them get unstable for a few days. You may experience different feelings – sad, lonely, angry or irritable – and may easily get overwhelmed with emotions.

Additionally, abortion is not just a procedure but a complex decision as well. Even when you are sure that you made the right decision, abortion can bring along negative emotions like grief, shame or regret. These feelings may come forth as active feelings and occur within few hours of abortion. Or they may remain latent surfacing years later when some other life experience triggers them.

Any of such emotional turmoil lasting a few days to just a couple of weeks is normal and fades away by itself.

However, sometimes these feelings get more intense, more and more difficult to cope up with and linger longer. You might find yourself restless, agitated or troubled for weeks or months, without realizing what is causing it. This could be the post-abortion depression manifesting itself.

Common Symptoms

Post-abortion symptoms could include all or any of the following:

  • Guilt, anxiety, anger
  • Grief and loss
  • Denial and Repression of intolerable emotions related to abortion
  • Regret and Remorse
  • Flashbacks – thinking about events related to abortion and reliving them emotionally
  • Disruption in interpersonal relationships – inability to connect with partner, friends and family
  • Sudden and uncontrollable crying episodes
  • Feeling of unworthiness

Other Symptoms

The following symptoms are very serious and you should seek professional help if you experience any of them:

  • Disruption or inability to bond with present or future children
  • Nightmares – with themes of lost or crying babies
  • Regular sleeplessness
  • Brief psychosis or loss of reality
  • Psychological numbing
  • Idea of suicide

Contributing Factors

Contrary to popular belief, depression after abortion is not caused by abortion per se but by the many circumstances that surround it. Apart from a woman’s hormonal imbalances, there are other factors as well that contribute to depression. Lack of support post-abortion is one of such factors. If your family didn’t agree for abortion or if you are hiding this from your friends, you will feel extremely lonely. Social stigmas related to abortion make it difficult for women to share their experiences and further isolates them. Many times couples are not able to bear the crisis of unplanned pregnancy and abortion and fall apart. You might feel judged as well – as if when you walk by everyone stares at you and feels disgusted at your decision. Many get depressed about their future, from the anxiety that they never be able to find a good partner, or never be able to get pregnant again.

Coping

If you feel depressed, know that you are not alone. Approximately 5% to 30% of women, all over the world, report such feelings. First step in coping with depression is understanding and accepting your feelings without judging them. Understanding will help you in letting go of your baggage. Then comes taking good care of yourself. It is also very important to meet people and share your feeling with those you can confide with. If you fear being judged, join a support group where women went through the same thing and will understand how you feel.

If your feelings remain overwhelming and persistent, consult a therapist.