Women who opt for abortion voluntarily, those who accept it as an obligation and the ones who have it done due to medical complications – All of them can experience early post-abortion trauma equally. A few proceed towards chronic suffering and show one or more symptoms which lead to this Syndrome.
Our society still fails to possess the concern to address a woman’s emotional well-being post-abortion. There are debatable issues questioning the behavioral changes in women who arrive at a decision of aborting on their own and still suffer. Coping with such contradictory emotions would necessitate immediate help from family and medical professionals to avoid post-abortion stress.
Post-abortion Stress Syndrome is a post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by women after an abortion. Women undergoing abortion exhibit physical and emotional signs in a somewhat similar pattern. Feelings of guilt, pain and loss constitute every abortion whether elective or involuntary. In some women these early signs of distress go undetected and heal on their own, while the rest would display long-term psychological effects resulting into a group of symptoms called post-abortion syndrome.
The Risk Factors
Post-abortion syndrome would be a reflection of an unstable mindset at the time of abortion. Women who regret their decision and still undergo an abortion or those who are compelled into having an abortion due to undue pressure are maybe at a greater risks to be affected. Lack of adequate counseling and knowledge about abortion is another factor.
Symptoms may occur immediately following an abortion or in some cases in the later years. The feeling of guilt is one of the major symptoms of PASS disorder. The fact that the mother who could have been the caregiver of the baby was the one who has aborted the unborn makes them feel very offensive. Many of them tend to link the bad events in life to their act of pregnancy termination. Religious minded women tend to think of it as a sin and relate the setbacks in life as a punishment from God.
Anxiety can present with several psychological symptoms and physical signs too. Irritability, insomnia, sleep disorders, eating disorders, headaches, increased heart rate could be some symptoms.
False fears of future infertility issues, immediate conception to cope up with the loss, or completing every unplanned pregnancy to term could be additional signs.
Hatred and anger is expressed towards husband and family members who influenced her decision to abort. This might affect her bonding with future children too by being either overprotective or even abusive to compensate the loss of the unborn baby in a way she wants.
Psychological detachment can be a very disabling symptom. Women tend to develop a mental resistance to thoughts, places, activities associated with abortion. They avoid everything that reminds them of event and is the first psychological sign of dealing with grief. It becomes hard to maintain and initiate new relationships; they might unnaturally isolate themselves from society.
Drugs and alcohol addiction, self-harming behavior are the traits adapted while dealing with abortion.
Anniversary syndrome corresponds to aggravation of post-abortion syndrome corresponding to the date of abortion every year. Some might even portray the child to be alive and fantasize the age of the baby.
Dealing with the Syndrome
The most important aspect of dealing with post-abortion stress is to get help from a professional crisis counselor. This enables to identify and treat emotional issues before they reach clinical depression. Pre-abortion counseling followed by an informed decision would greatly reduce the magnitude of trauma and hence the syndrome. Women need to come forward and speak out their doubts, talk to the counselor or concerned medical professional without feeling awkward or embarrassed. Support groups, friends, family can further accentuate their recovery.
The best way to prevent post-abortion syndrome is by seeking medical health care as early as possible without subjugating your depressive emotions and expecting them to go on their own.