What Are the Mental Health Effects of Abortion?

Post-abortion mental health issues are different for every woman. Many women report immediately feeling relief following their abortion. But many also describe sadness, grief, guilt, and loss as time passes. How you respond mentally to abortion is as unique as you are, but some underlying factors might help you recognize what to expect.

Is There a Mental Health Link with Abortion?

Researchers have debated the mental health effects of abortion over the years. Some studies claim there is no link. Others say there is very clearly a link for “certain women.” Both sides agree that “abortion is consistently associated with elevated rates of mental illness compared to women without a history of abortion.”

The Mayo Clinic says, “Having a medical abortion [the abortion pill method] is a major decision with emotional and psychological consequences.” Researchers agree there needs to be more studies done. 

Who Is Most Vulnerable to Mental Health Issues Following an Abortion?

A study published by the National Library of Medicine says women with pre-existing mental health problems before an abortion are at risk of more significant mental health issues afterward.

The degree of mental health problems relating to abortion varied due to many factors, such as the following:

  • Being pressured to abort
  • Inadequate pre-abortion counseling
  • Conflicting moral beliefs
  • Pre-existing mental health issues
  • Lack of social support
  • Prior pregnancy loss

How Many Women Have Pre-Existing Mental Health Issues in the U.S.?

Sadly, the recent pandemic only added to mental health issues in America. One study estimated that 1 in 4 American adults have a mental disorder. Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer major depression than men, and the average age at onset is the mid-20s. 

Are There Warning Signs of Mental Illness?

A healthcare provider can’t diagnose mental illness the way they determine heart disease or diabetes. But according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), common symptoms include the following:

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Seeing, hearing, or believing things that aren’t “real”
  • Drastic changes in mood
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating

What Can I Do?

If you are struggling with mental health issues, please seek help immediately. NAMI offers free, peer-led support groups and a HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). 

At Life Choices Center, we offer support services as well. We can discuss options for your unplanned pregnancy, including abortion procedures, side effects, and potential risks. 

If you have already experienced an abortion and are struggling with your emotions, we offer a free Beyond the Choice abortion recovery program. To learn more, call (607) 205-8506 or email us at info@lifechoicescenter.org

We never judge. We only listen and understand. Help is available.

Life Choices Center is not a medical facility and does not perform or refer for abortions.