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Having an abortion can be a very emotional experience. It’s important to be aware of how we might feel after an abortion and to know where we can get help if we need it. However, we should also remember that having an abortion doesn’t always cause negative emotions or mental health conditions. We’re all different and the ways we respond to this experience can be very different too.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how you will feel after an abortion, but it’s a good idea to consider how you might feel so that you can be prepared. Try to imagine that you have already had the abortion and how that makes you feel. It can also be helpful to imagine that you have gone ahead with the pregnancy.
You will probably find that there is a mix of positive and negative emotions in both of these situations. Some of the emotions that you might feel at different times (whether you have an abortion or continue with the pregnancy) might include:
You should also be aware that your feelings will change over time. Some women feel sad for a short time and then recover quickly while others will experience a more severe or lasting sense of loss. In some cases, women feel relieved and happy with their decision, but then experience feelings of grief months or even years later. However, most women who consider their options carefully and feel confident about their decision when they make it will continue to feel the same way most of the time.
Even if you occasionally wonder what might have been or feel a bit sad, it is unlikely that you will experience mental health issues as a result of having an abortion. Having the occasional sad thought or needing some time to work through negative emotions is not the same as having a mental health condition. A mental health disorder is a medical condition that affects the way you think, feel or behave in ways that affect your ability to complete your usual work, social or family activities.
Does Having an Abortion Raise the Risk of Mental Health Problems?
About 1 in 3 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. Going through a difficult experience can make us more likely to be in that group, but having an abortion is no more traumatic than having a baby. Both of these experiences can trigger conditions like depression in a small number of women, especially if the pregnancy was unwanted. If you are at higher risk, for example if you have a history of mental health problems, then it is important to ensure you have all the support you need in either situation. However, most women will be able to go through these experiences without developing a mental health disorder.
You can ask for help at any time. Even if it is many years since you had your abortion, help is available if you are feeling anxious, depressed or you just need to talk about your experiences and feelings. You should treat your mental health in the same way as your physical health. Do what you can to look after yourself and ask for help when you need it.
Do you have any other tips for coping with negative emotions?