While relief is often the first emotion experienced after abortion, many women & men also experience painful emotions such as sadness, grief, anger, anxiety, and guilt. They may suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder including re-experiencing the abortion (e.g. intrusive thoughts or dreams), hyperarousal (e.g. irritability, difficulty concentrating), and avoidance (e.g. of thoughts about or reminders of the abortion). Painful emotions and trauma symptoms may be severe enough to impair daily functioning.
Those who believe they have deliberately ended a life by choosing abortion are more likely to suffer from guilt and anxiety. They may fear punishment from God or believe the future will bring retribution. They may avoid the church and anything else related to God. Some may put great effort in their attempts to ‘atone’ for the abortion. They may feel cut off from God and unworthy to communicate with Him through prayer.
After abortion, women experience dramatic hormonal changes similar to what they would experience following delivery. These hormonal changes may contribute to women’s emotional difficulties. Eventually, hormone levels will return to pre-pregnancy levels. Other physical complications of abortion are more serious such as excessive bleeding or infection. Immediate medical attention is necessary in these cases.
The majority of post-abortion counseling programs are provided by non-professional or “peer counselors” and tend to focus on spiritual healing. These programs can be very beneficial as documented by the women and men who have acknowledged the positive help they received from them. However, when suicidal thoughts or serious trauma symptoms are present after abortion, the individual experiencing such symptoms should work with a professionally trained counselor.