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What Are the Mental Health Effects of Abortion?

Did you know that 1 in 5 American adults will struggle with mental illness in a given year? And 50 percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life, according to the CDC. 

But, as common as mental health struggles are, few people actually want to admit to having one because of the stigma that surrounds it. 

As it turns out, people who have an abortion might be at a higher risk for having a mental health struggle than others. 

Women who have undergone an abortion experience an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, According to Cambridge University,

Men also struggle post-abortion. According to sociologist Arthur Shostak, “90% of men consider the day of an abortion to be one of the most stressful of their lives.”

What Are the Symptoms of Post-Abortive Mental Health Struggles?

If you find yourself struggling with the desire for self harm, substance abuse, or anxiety after an abortion, you are not alone. 

A  2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that there were dramatic changes in mental health in women who had an abortion. They found women who had an abortion were:

  • 110% more likely to abuse alcohol
  • 155% more likely to commit suicide
  • 220% more likely to abuse marijuana
  • 37% more likely to experience depression
  • 34% more likely to develop an anxiety disorder

Another study found that many women who have undergone an abortion have the criteria for PTSD. These symptoms include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance symptoms (tendency to avoid memories, thoughts or feelings associated with the event)
  • Persistent negative emotional state (constant feelings of guilt or shame)
  • Detachment from others
  • Insomnia
  • Self destructive behaviors 
  • Suicide

How Can You Cope with Mental Struggle?

The good news is that you don’t have to stay in a dark mental place. There is hope for you to find healing and to move forward if you address your mental health rather than ignore it. 

Here are some steps you can take towards healing:

  1. Talk with a counselor. Share your story with a good counselor who can help you work through your emotions and why you feel the way you do. They can offer insight and help you to find a breakthrough.
  2. Allow yourself to feel. Stop telling yourself what you should be feeling. Stop pushing down your grief. Instead, allow yourself to walk through the emotions you are feeling. Allow yourself to be sad, angry, or hurt.
  3. Forgive. Stop holding onto the need for revenge or punishment for yourself or others involved. Hurting yourself or others won’t change your abortion, but it will add to the hurt you already are experiencing. Instead, allow yourself to accept forgiveness. It doesn’t mean you have to be OK with your abortion, but it does mean you choose to let go of the need to make someone pay for what happened.
  4. Do something life giving. Go for a run. Write in your journal. Play your guitar. Get a pedicure. Go to church. Take time out to do something that will refresh your spirit. 

Where Can You Find Emotional Support?

If you are struggling emotionally after an abortion, please do not face this valley alone. We are here to help. We understand what you are walking through, and we can help you find some hopeful perspective. Please call us today to find the emotional support you need.

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