Can You Have PTSD After Abortion?

What is PTSD?  As per the American Psychiatric Association, Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances. An individual may experience this as emotionally or physically harmful or life threatening and may affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being. Examples include natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war/combat, rape/sexual assault, historical trauma, intimate partner violence and bullying.  People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.

Abortion may also be traumatic for some individuals.  As per Vida Medical Clinic: Abortion

If you have recently had an abortion, there are common issues and emotions you may encounter immediately after the decision.

Hormones: Your hormones are in the process of shifting back to a non-pregnant state. Having unbalanced hormones leads many to experience emotional ups and downs. When you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that your body is changing and be patient.

Follow-Up:  Schedule a follow-up exam by a physician to ensure that your procedure was appropriate and for any needed follow-up care.

Relief:  Feeling “relieved” is a very common emotion after abortion.  The “crisis” is over, and the situation has been resolved for many women after abortion. This relief can be temporary. Other emotions (anger, grief, depression) can find their way into your life in the days, months, and years to come.

Anger: It is normal to be angry after an abortion experience. Anger is the most typical emotion endured after this procedure. This is particularly true if you were pressured by others to abort. Hormonal imbalances impact all emotional reactions, particularly related to anger.  Anger can be directed at non-abortion related situations in your life, sometimes years later.  This is a sign you are struggling with PTSD.

Grief:  You have experienced a pregnancy loss, regardless of the fact that it may have been your choice. Give yourself permission to grieve this pregnancy loss.

Pregnancy Urgency:  Some post-abortive women feel an urgency to become pregnant again as soon as possible. Some mothers seek to “replace” the lost child with another baby. Many who successfully become pregnant again may find themselves facing the same pressure and lack of support from those around them. They can very easily abort again and again.

The “A” Word:  When you hear the word “abortion” in conversation or media coverage, understand that it can trigger psychological pain.  If anxiety, anger, or pain comes over you at the mention of this term, you may need some help in addressing this past choice.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact Soundview Pregnancy Services where our trained reproductive grief coaches are ready to help support you through this difficult time.  1-888-709-3227.