Abortion PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or Post-Abortion Syndrome
Abortion PTSD has many “faces” depending on the variables surrounding the abortion situation. Choosing abortion can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Below is a list of typical reactions some may experience in the months or years following an abortion.
Rarely does the post-abortive person suffer every scenario. Other symptoms may not even be included in the list below. 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 program can help bring peace.
Guilt – 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 Abortion PTSD guilty reaction could be that the individuals 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. Thus may also include worrying about the future, struggling to concentrate and not be 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.
Feeling “Numb” – 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 part of their abortion experience. When someone shuts down emotionally, they don’t feel sorrow or joy. Many who suffer from Abortion PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol to assist in numbing these memories that result in guilt or anxiety.
Depression – 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 who suffer from Abortion PTSD 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 to hold them at last.
Anniversary Reminders – 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 who have Abortion PTSD experience ongoing nightmares involving children, 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 Abortion PTSD 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 fright can lead these parents to overprotect their children at an unhealthy level.
Eating disorders. 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 Abortion PTSD individual can personally regulate when their life feels beyond their control.
Alcohol and Drug Use – Drugs and alcohol often serves as a tranquilizer that helps the post-abortive keep the memories of an abortion at a distance. They 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 you are post-abortive and are experiencing two or more of these abortion ptsd symptoms, Ramah exists to help you! Visit the “Help In Your Area” section of our website or write to me directly at [email protected] for an abortion recovery class referral. If direct contact is too painful, buy my book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, available on the resource section of ramahinternational.org. Help is available for those who suffer from Abortion PTSD!
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Hello, I am Sydna Massé Founder and CEO of Ramah International and the author of Her Choice to Heal. I'd love to keep in touch and include you in our prayer chain as we continue to serve abortion's wounded and those considering abortion.
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