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(18) EATING DISORDERS: For at least some women, post-abortion stress is associated with eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia nervosa.(19) SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION: Thirty to fifty percent of the women who experience difficulty adjusting to a past abortion report experiencing sexual dysfunctions, of both short and long duration, beginning immediately after their abortions.These factors are closely associated with child abuse and would appear to confirm individual clinical assessments linking post-abortion trauma with subsequent child abuse.(20) POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD or PAS): While psychological reactions to abortion fall into many categories, some women experience all or some of they symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).The lowest incidence rate of PTSD reported following abortion is 1.5%, which would translate to over 600,000 cases of abortion induced PTSD.Another study found that 14% of American women have all the symptoms of PTSD and attribute them to their abortions, with as many as 65% reporting some, but not all symptoms of PTSD.In a study of post-abortion patients only 8 weeks after their abortion, researchers found that 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% had experienced sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor.(2) A 2006 study published in Sleep, the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, found that women who experienced abortion were more likely to be treated for sleep disorders or disturbances compared to women who gave birth.(27) A 5 year retrospective study in two Canadian provinces found significantly greater use of medical and psychiatric services among women with a history of abortion.

As a result, some counselors report that unacknowledged post-abortion distress is the causative factor in many of their female patients, even though their patients have come to them seeking therapy for seemingly unrelated problems.

“Although some studies have concluded that abortion has neutral effects on mental health, no study has reported that exposure to abortion reduces mental health risks.” RISK FACTORS: Researchers have identified a large number of statistically significant risk factors that identify which women are at greatest risk of experiencing one or more severe reactions to abortion.

The following is list of risk factors identified by the American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion in their 2008 report: Please see “Identifying High Risk Abortion Patients” or “Abortion decisions and the duty to screen: clinical, ethical, and legal implications of predictive risk factors of post-abortion maladjustment” for a more complete list of risk factors, including citations to the studies identifying each risk factor.

Using a standardized statistical technique for combining the results of multiple studies, the meta-analysis revealed that women with a history of abortion face higher rates of anxiety (34 percent higher) and depression (37 percent higher), heavier alcohol use (110 percent higher) and marijuana use (230 percent higher), and higher rates of suicidal behavior (155 percent higher).

The study also found that women who delivered an unplanned pregnancy were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than similar women who aborted unplanned pregnancies.

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  1. Domestic violence survivors can face ongoing and challenging effects after enduring physical, mental, and emotional abuse. It can take time for a survivor to adjust to living in a safe environment, especially if a perpetrator was severely violent and/or committed the actions over an extended period of time.

  2. This article summarizes many of the common psychological and emotional effects divorce has on men, women and children. The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world.

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