Is Post-Abortion Syndrome Real?

post-abortion syndrome

There is a lot of controversy regarding post-abortion syndrome, also known as PAS. This is because many women experience trauma after having an abortion, and various symptoms are associated with this.

What Is Post-Abortion Syndrome?

Post-abortion syndrome often presents similarly to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For many women, abortion is a traumatic event that stays with them for weeks, months, and years afterward. After an abortion, a woman may dwell on the memories of the procedure, often without support or understanding from her partner or society. Post-abortion syndrome is real, even though not every woman who has an abortion experiences it.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of PAS are similar to those of PTSD. Following an abortion, a woman may experience:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Flashbacks to the event
  • Nightmares
  • Avoidance of reminders
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression

Many of these symptoms do not manifest physically, so diagnosing them can be challenging. In addition, for a woman struggling with these experiences after an abortion, it can be isolating and lonely. This isolation is exacerbated if she does not have support before, during, or after the abortion. PAS may also be triggered by seeing pregnant women and newborn babies, attending gynecological exams, and other situations related to birth and motherhood.

PAS vs. Other Mental Conditions

PAS is similar to other conditions and has overlapping symptoms with other mental health issues. For example, some of the characteristics of depression are a decrease in things a person once enjoyed, lingering apathy and sadness, and a change in sleeping patterns. Anxiety also plagues many women during and after pregnancy and following an abortion. PAS is common enough that it warrants a discussion alongside other pregnancy-related mental health conditions

What Leads To PAS?

Many factors may contribute to a woman developing PAS. However, it’s essential to recognize that any woman can have post-abortion syndrome. Men also can develop PAS, though these cases typically receive less attention. Lack of support during pregnancy can be challenging for both men and women. If you don’t have support, abortion can seem like your only option. In addition, pressure from a partner to have an abortion, especially when that conflicts with what you want, can lead to PAS. Another critical factor is that having an abortion may conflict with your personal or religious beliefs. The cognitive dissonance can be overwhelming and contribute to emotional angst. All these factors can contribute to developing post-abortion syndrome.

Have you or someone you love had an abortion and are struggling emotionally? Clearway Clinic has resources to help you without judgment, including retreats and counseling opportunities. Contact us to learn more.

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