Aftereffect or secondary result of injury.
POST ABORTION SYNDROME
The term Post Abortion Syndromerefers to a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that results from the traumatic experience of abortion. Emotional, physical and spiritual problems linger long after the abortion. Many try to forget, ignore or deny these symptoms.
If you have three or more of the following symptoms, please consider contacting us. Comforting Rachel class is designed to help you understand and get through some of the reasons you may be suffering.
SYMPTOMS OF POST ABORTION SYNDROME
The symptoms of PAS will not necessarily appear at the same time, nor is any woman likely to experience all of them. Some may occur immediately after an abortion, and others much later. However, if three or more of the symptoms listed below describe what you have been going through recently, chances are you are experiencing PAS.
Guilt | The intense emotion that may be felt what an individual feels when she/he has violated her/his own moral code. For the woman who has come to believe, at some point either before or after the abortion, that she consented to taking the life of her unborn child, the burden of guilt is relentless. In fact, many post-abortive women believe that any unhappy events that have occurred since the abortion were because they “deserve it.”
Anxiety | It is defined as an unpleasant emotional and physical state of apprehension that may take the form of tension (inability to relax, irritability), physical responses (dizziness, pounding heart, upset stomach, headaches), worry about the future, difficulty concentrating, and disturbed sleep. The conflict between a woman’s moral standards and her decision to abort generates much of this anxiety. Very often, she will not relate her anxiety to a past abortion, and yet she will unconsciously begin to avoid anything having to do with babies or children.
Psychological numbing | Many post-abortive women maintain a secret vow that they will never again allow themselves to be put in such a vulnerable position. As a result, often without conscious thought, they may work hard to keep their emotions in tight check, preventing themselves from feeling the pain of what has happened, but also greatly hampering their ability to form and maintain close relationships. Cut off even from themselves, they may feel as though their lives are happening to another person.
Depression | All of us experience depression from time to time, but the following forms of it are certainly common in women who have experienced abortion:
• Sad mood— ranging from feelings of melancholy to total hopelessness.
• Sudden and uncontrollable crying episodes— the source of which appear to be a total mystery.
• Deterioration of self-concept— because she feels wholly deficient in her ability to function as a “normal” woman.
• Sleep, appetite, and sexual disturbances— usually in a pattern of insomnia, loss of appetite, and/ or reduced sex drive.
• Reduced motivation— for the normal activities of life. The things that occupied her life before the depression no longer seem worth doing.
• Disruption in interpersonal relationships— because of a general lack of enthusiasm for all activities. This is especially evidenced in her relationship with her husband or boyfriend, particularly if he was involved in the abortion decision.
• Thoughts of Suicide— or preoccupation with death. Not surprisingly, in a study done by the Elliot Institute, some 33 percent of post-abortive women surveyed reached a level of depression so deep that they would rather die than go on. If you, or someone you know, has verbalized feelings this desperate, you or they are experiencing the severest form of clinical depression. Please get immediate professional attention.
Anniversary Syndrome | In the same survey, some 54 percent of post-abortive women report an increase of PAS symptoms around the anniversary of the abortion and/ or the due date of the aborted child.
Re-experiencing the abortion | A very common event described by post-abortive women is the sudden, distressing, recurring flashbacks of the abortion episode. Flashbacks often occur during situations that resemble some aspect of the abortion, such as a routine gynecological exam, or even the sound of a vacuum cleaner’s suction. Flashbacks also occur in the form of recurring nightmares about babies in general or the aborted baby in particular. These dreams usually involve themes of lost, dismembered, or crying babies.
Preoccupation with becoming pregnant again | A significant percentage of women who abort become pregnant again within one year, and many others verbalize the desire to conceive again as quickly as possible. The new baby, sometimes referred to as the “atonement child,” may represent an unconscious desire to replace the one that was aborted.
Anxiety over fertility & childbearing issues | Some post-abortive women maintain a fear that they will never again become pregnant or never be able to carry a pregnancy to term. Some expect to have handicapped children because they have “disqualified themselves as good mothers.” Many refer to these fears as punishments from God.
Interruption of the bonding process with present and/or future children | Fearing another devastating loss, a post-abortive woman may not allow herself to truly bond with other children. Another common reaction is to atone for her actions toward the aborted child by becoming the world’s most perfect mother to her remaining or future children. Likewise, the woman who already had children at the time of her abortion may discover that she is beginning to view them in a different light. At one extreme she may unconsciously devalue them, thinking things like You were the lucky ones; you were allowed to live. Or she may go in the opposite direction and become overly protective.
Survival guilt | Most women do not abort for trivial reasons. They are usually in the midst of a heartbreaking situation where they stand to lose much if they choose to carry their pregnancies to term. In the end, the decision boils down to a sorrowful “it’s me or you, and I choose me.” But while the abortion frees them from their current trauma, it frequently produces in them an unrelenting guilt for choosing their own comfort over the life of the child.
Development of eating disorders | Some post-abortive women develop anorexia or bulimia. While this phenomenon remains largely unexplored at this time, several factors may contribute to it. First, a substantial weight gain or severe weight loss is associated with unattractiveness, which reduces the odds of becoming pregnant again. Second, becoming unattractive serves as a form of self-punishment and helps perpetuate the belief that the woman is unworthy of anyone’s attention. Third, extremes in eating behavior represent a form of control for the woman who feels her life is totally out of control. And finally, a drastic weight loss can shut down the menstrual cycle, thus preventing any future pregnancies.
Alcohol & drug abuse | Alcohol and drug use often serve initially as a form of self-medication— a way of coping with the pain of the abortion memories. Sadly, the woman who resorts to alcohol and/ or drugs eventually finds herself having not only more problems, but also fewer resources with which to solve them. The mental and physical consequences of alcohol or drug abuse only amplify most of the symptoms the woman is already experiencing.
Other self-punishing or self-degrading behaviors | In addition to eating disorders and substance abuse, the post-abortive woman may also enter into abusive relationships, become promiscuous, fail to take care of herself medically, or deliberately hurt herself emotionally and/or physically.
Brief reactive psychosis | Rarely, a post-abortive woman may experience a brief psychotic episode for two weeks or less after her abortion. The break with reality and subsequent recovery are both extremely rapid, and in most cases the person returns to normal when it is over. While this is an unusual reaction to abortion, it bears mentioning only because it is possible for a person to have a brief psychotic reaction to a stressful event without being labeled a psychotic individual. During such an episode, the individual’s perception of reality is drastically distorted.
While this list of symptoms can be overwhelming, remember that God is the author of all healing. He can wash away each element of pain from your life, restoring you to the peace and security that existed in your heart before making this choice.
Take comfort from Isaiah 43:19: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”