Depression After Abortion

Deciding to have an abortion can be a source of depression when facing an unplanned pregnancy. It is completely understandable the life circumstances have brought you to this choice and preparing for an abortion needs to include how you will feel after the procedure and how you will deal with depression after abortion. Here are some ways to help you cope and feel better right after and for the long-term.

Depression After Abortion

It is a natural reaction to feel apprehensive about the decision to have an abortion. You may even feel a sense of relief in your situation. An abortion is a major life changing decision and can affect you for a very long time. This is why it helps to know what you might feel after the procedure.

Common First Feelings After Abortion

Contrary to what you might think, your first feelings may not be grief and regret. Most women often feel a sense of relief right after the procedure. It is important to understand the sense of relief is very short lived and be prepared for other feelings to follow. The other percentage of women will feel a deep regret and sadness right after the procedure. This is due to the feeling that you cannot get back what you just lost.

At some point, the sense of relief and a period of grieving and sadness follows. This may cause you to feel confused about your feelings. The one thing that is most common about depression after abortion, is that women tend to “push it down” inside of themselves. They try to live each day as they normally would and try not to confront the feelings they are having.

Symptoms of Depression After Abortion

The symptoms of depression after an abortion are actually closer to “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome” rather than actual depression. The event was traumatic so along with the depression there may also be anxiety type symptoms at certain times. The symptoms include:

  • Sadness when seeing a baby
  • Deepening depression near the anniversary date of the abortion, during and just after
  • Medical anxiety when you visit a doctor’s office or hospital
  • Sadness near the baby’s projected due date
  • Anxiety when hearing a baby cry
  • Nightmares or even happy dreams about the baby
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Jealous feelings towards pregnant friends and family
  • Wanting to get pregnant again to “replace” the baby
  • Strong flashback memories of the abortion
  • Avoidance of the emotions associated with the abortion
  • Anger at yourself or partner
  • Guilt, shame, and isolation
  • Eating disorders or altered body image disorders
  • Heightened startle reflex at appliances that make the same noise as the abortion unit i.e. blenders and vacuums
  • Before and after the abortion, you may find yourself looking at pictures of fetuses at certain stages
  • Problems with relationships
  • Trouble connecting to other children
  • Fear that something will go wrong in a planned subsequent pregnancy
  • Sexual dysfunction

There can be numerous other symptoms depending on how you process the abortion. Remember that you had a pregnancy with all the associated hormonal changes to your body that any other pregnant woman would experience. After the abortion, there are more hormonal changes that take place so some depressed feelings could be associated with hormones. This usually doesn’t last long, so if you experience any of the symptoms longer than just a few weeks, you may have “clinical depression” after abortion.

How Common Is Depression After Abortion?

It actually is rare for women to go into a full clinical depression after having an abortion. That is the good news. You may feel some slight twinges of the symptoms above and be alright. Statistics show that around 5 to 30% of women who have an abortion feel mild cases ofdepression, anxiety, guilt, and regret.

Risk factors for developing clinical depression after abortion includedepression in the past, history of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and/or history of anxiety, as well as having lots of stress in life. If you do have any lingering symptoms, thoughts of hurting yourself, or loss of ability to perform normal daily activities you may need to seek treatment.

Causes Of Depression After Abortion

Depresson after abortion is not caused by grief, it is caused by not allowing yourself to grieve. To you, your grief after the procedure is very real. To others, your loss is unseen and unfelt because you feel you don’t have the right to feel the grief. So you hide it and move on. This leads to the depression. When you don’t allow yourself to process the grief, you will find yourself stuck in the depressive episode without even knowing why.

Coping With Depression After Abortion

If you truly think you are clinically depressed after abortion, it is time to seek help. Here are a few tips to help you deal with your feelings:

1.      Talk About It

Find a friend, a support group, or a therapist to talk about your feelings. It is time to let your secret out of the depths of your soul. It is very understandable that it is a sad place to go, but talking about it with someone you trust is the beginning of the healing process. Some abortion clinics have support groups or counselors on staff to help you.

2.      Go Easy on Yourself

Try not to give in to the guilt. Don’t punish yourself for a decision that you had to make. Don’t allow legal, religious, or political views to make you feel like you have done something wrong. You did what is right for you and not everyone else. Stand your ground that this was your decision and it was the right one.

3.      Encourage Yourself with Positive Thinking

Don't be too hard on yourself. Talk to yourself affirmatively. Always remind yourself that you are a normal person and a good person.

  • Understand that you made the best decision you could under the circumstances
  • You are brave because you’ve made the most difficult decision
  • Write your feelings down in a special book or journal that no one else will see
  • Create an "end" to your pregnancy by writing a good-bye letter to the baby
  • Practice relaxation exercises to help deal with stress
  • Make a list of things you are looking forward to doing in the future

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