From Abortion Risksmediawiki
General Background Studies
"The effect of adolescent virginity status on psychological well-being" J. J. Sabiaa, D.I. Rees. Journal of Health Economics Volume 27, Issue 5, September 2008, Pages 1368-1381
Examining data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to explore virginity status affects self-esteem and depression, it was found that sexually active female adolescents are at increased risk of exhibiting the symptoms of depression relative to their counterparts who are not sexually active (19% vs 9.2%).
"Depressive symptoms during pregnancy: Relationship to poor health behaviors," B. Zuckerman et al.. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 160: 1107-1111, 1989.
- In a study of 1014 women of mostly poor and minority status at Boston City Hospital between 1984-1987, depressive symptoms during pregnancy were associated with increased life stress, decreased social support, poor weight gain, and use of cigarettes, alcohol and cocaine.
"Increasing Rates of Depression," . G.L. Klerman, M.M. Weissman, JAMA 261 (15):2229-2235, April 21, 1989.
- Several studies have observed important changes in rates of depression among those born after W.W.II including a decrease in the age of onset with an increase in the late teenage and early adult years; an increase between 1960 and 1975 in the rates of depression for all ages; the risk of depression is consistently 2 to 3 times higher among women than men of all ages.
"Continuing Female Predominance In Depressive Illness, A.C," Leon, G.L. Klerman, P. Wickramaratne, Am.J. Public Health 83 (5): 754, May, 1993.
- Women continued to show higher rates of depression than men. Regardless of sex or period of time, subjects seemed to be at greatest risk of a first major depressive episode between ages 16-25.
"Social Adjustment and Depression: A Longitudinal Study," E. S. Paykel and M. Weissman, Archives of General Psychiatry 28: 659-663 (1973).
- Depressed women showed residual dysfunctions in the areas of interpersonal friction and inhibited communication that remained relatively unchanged even when other symptoms of depression and sodal maladjustment dissipated.
"Interpersonal Consequences to Depression," C. L. Hammen, and S.D. Peters, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 87: 322-332 (1978).
- Depressed persons elicit more negative reactions from others than non-depressed.
"Irrational Beliefs in Depression," R.E. Nelson, J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 45: 1190-1191 (1977).
- The strongest correlates of depression are general irrationality, a need to excel in all endeavors, a need to feel worthwhile as a person, a feeling that things are terrible when they are not like one wants, obsessive worry, and a belief that it is impossible to overcome one's past.
"Life Events and Depressive Order Reviewed," I and II, C. Lloyd, Archives of General Psychiatry 37: 529-535 May, 1980.
- Loss of parents may double or triple the depressive factor.
"Epidemiology of Affective Disorders," Robert Hirschfield and C.K. Grass, Archives of General Psychiatry 39(1): 35 (1982).
- A good summary of the literature.
"Hostility and Depression," E.S. Gershon, M. Cromer and G.L. Klerman, Psychiatry 31: 224-235 (1968).
- Hostility may have separate mechanisms both for its initiation and its defensive alterations. The expression of hostility may drain off the awareness of depression. It may express a "great despairing cry for love."
"Life Events and Depression: A Controlled Study," E.S. Paykel, J.K. Myers, M. Dienelt, Archives of General Psychiatry 21: 753-760 (1969).
- Study noted an excessive number of stressful life events prior to depression.
"Masked Depression in Children and Adolescents," Kurt Glaser, American Journal of Psychotherapy 566-574 (1966).
- Behavior problems and delinquent behavior such as temper tantrums, disobedience, truancy, running away from home, failure to achieve in school may indicate depressive feelings.
"Sex Differences and the Epidemiology of Depression," Myron Weissman and Gerald Klerman, Archives of General Psychiatry 34: 98-111 (January 1977).
- Authors review various studies and conclude that women predominate among depressives; psycho-social explanations include social status hypothesis of social discrimination against women. It is hypothesized that inequities lead to legal and economic helplessness, dependency on others, chronically low self-esteem, low aspirations and ultimately clinical depression. The learned helplessness theory proposes that socially conditioned, stereotypical images produce in women a cognitive set against assertion which is reinforced by societal expectations. Learned helplessness is characteristic of depression.
"Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Depression: A Cross Disciplinary Appraisal of Objects. Games and Meaning," Ernest Becker, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 135: 26- 35 (1962). Comments by the author:
- Until Edward Bibring's theory, self-directed aggression was considered a primary mechanism in depression. Bibring signaled a radical departure from previous theory when he postulated that self-directed aggression was secondary to an undermining of self- esteem. Thereby, he delivered an apparently telling blow to formulations around the concepts of morality and aggression.
- In the classical psychoanalytic formulation of depression, mourning and melancholic states, loss of a loved object was considered to be a crucial dynamic. The ego which (theoretically) grows by ideationally gathering objects into itself, was thought to sometimes massive trauma when loved objects had to be relinquished. The loss of an object in the real world meant a corresponding depletion of the ego.
- The sociological view has stressed not object depletion in the ego as the motivation for funeral and mourning rites, but rather the social dramatization of solidarity at the loss of one of society's performance members. Ceremonies of mourning serve as a reaffirmation of social cohesiveness even though single performers drop out of the plot.
- To lose an object is to lose someone to whom one has made appeal for self-validation.
- It was formerly thought that depression was rare among the "simpler peoples for several reasons--it was thought that the accumulation of guilt so prominent in the depressive syndrome-there was also the lingering myth of the happy savage.
- The most difficult realization for man is the possibility that life has no meaning.
- "Acknowledgment of personal sin or confession of guilt may sometimes be a defense against the possibility that there may be no meaning in the world....
- Guilt in oneself is easier to face than lack of meaning in life." (quoted from On Shame and Search for Identity Helen Merrell Lynd, Harcourt-Brace  p. 58)
- The more people to whom one can make appeal for his identity, the easier it is to sustain life-meaning. Object loss hits hardest when self-justification is limited to a few objects.
"The Mechanism of Depression," E. Bibring, in Greenacre, P., Ed., Affective Disorders, (New York: International Universities Press, 1953) pp. 13-48.
Depression, A.T. Beck, (New York: Hoeber, 1967)
- Ed Note: This is an important work on depression.
Abortion and depression: a population-based longitudinal study of young women. Pedersen W. Scand J Public Health. 2008 Jun;36(4):424-8.
- AIM: Induced abortion is an experience shared by a large number of women in Norway, but we know little about the likely social or mental health-related implications of undergoing induced abortion. International studies suggest an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as depression, but many studies are weakened by poor design. One particular problem is the lack of control for confounding factors likely to increase the risk of both abortion and depression. The aim of the study was to investigate whether induced abortion was a risk factor for subsequent depression.
- METHODS: A representative sample of women from the normal population (n=768) was monitored between the ages of 15 and 27 years. Questions covered depression, induced abortion and childbirth, as well as sociodemographic variables, family relationships and a number of individual characteristics, such as schooling and occupational history and conduct problems.
- RESULTS: Young women who reported having had an abortion in their twenties were more likely to score above the cut-off point for depression (odds ratio (OR) 3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0-6.1). Controlling for third variables reduced the association, but it remained significant (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7-5.6). There was no association between teenage abortion and subsequent depression.
- CONCLUSIONS: Young adult women who undergo induced abortion may be at increased risk for subsequent depression.
Pregnancy loss and psychiatric disorders in young women: an Australian birth cohort study Kaeleen Dingle, Rosa Alati, Alexandra Clavarino, Jake M. Najman, and Gail M. Williams BJP 2008 193: 455-460.
- Young women reporting a pregnancy loss had nearly three times the odds of experiencing a lifetime illicit drug disorder (excluding cannabis): abortion odds ratio (OR)=3.6 (95% CI 2.0–6.7) and miscarriage OR=2.6 (95% CI 1.2–5.4). Abortion was associated with alcohol use disorder (OR=2.1, 95% CI 1.3–3.5) and 12-month depression (OR=1.9, 95% CI 1.1–3.1).
Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders, and Suicidal Behaviour in a Nationally Representative Sample. Mota NP, Burnett M, Sareen J. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 55, No 4, April 2010
- Methods: Data came from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (n = 3310 women, aged 18 years and older). The World Health Organization–Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to assess mental disorders based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria and lifetime abortion in women. Multiple logistic regression analyses were employed to examine associations between abortion and lifetime mood, anxiety, substance use, eating, and disruptive behaviour disorders, as well as suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. We calculated the percentage of respondents whose mental disorder came after the first abortion. The role of violence was also explored. Population attributable fractions were calculated for significant associations between abortion and mental disorders.
- Results: After adjusting for sociodemographics, abortion was associated with an increased likelihood of several mental disorders—mood disorders (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] ranging from 1.75 to 1.91), anxiety disorders (AOR ranging from 1.87 to 1.91), substance use disorders (AOR ranging from 3.14 to 4.99), as well as suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (AOR ranging from 1.97 to 2.18). Adjusting for violence weakened some of these associations. For all disorders examined, less than one-half of women reported that their mental disorder had begun after the first abortion. Population attributable fractions ranged from 5.8% (suicidal ideation) to 24.7% (drug abuse).
- Conclusions: Our study confirms a strong association between abortion and mental disorders. Possible mechanisms of this relation are discussed.
Psychiatric admissions of low income women following abortion and childbirth. Reardon DC, Cougle JR, Rue VM, Shuping MW, Coleman PK, Ney PG. Can Med Assoc J. 2003; 168(10):1253-7
- A study of California Medicaid (Medi-Cal) records of women aged 13–49 years at the time of either abortion or childbirth (n = 56 741 revealed taht women who had had an abortion had a significantly higher relative risk of psychiatric admission compared with women who had delivered for every time period examined. Significant differences by major diagnostic categories were found for adjustment reactions (odds ratio [OR] 2.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–4.1), single-episode (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3–2.9) and recurrent depressive psychosis (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.3–3.5), and bipolar disorder (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.5–6.0). Significant differences were also observed when the results were stratified by age. Similar findings were reported in regard to outpatient treatment for the same women. See, State-funded abortions vs. deliveries: A comparison of outpatient mental health claims over five years. Coleman PK, Reardon DC, Rue VM, Cougle JR. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2002; 72(1):141–52.
Using telemedicine for termination of pregnancy with mifepristone and misoprostol in settings where there is no access to safe services. Gomperts R, Jelinska K, Davies S, Gemzell-Danielsson K, Lleiverda G. BJOG 2008;115:1171–8.
About 30 percent of women taking abortion drugs purchased via the Internet reported depression and negative feelings accompanying the abortion.
Abortion and depression: A population-based longitudinal study of young women. Pedersen W. Scand J Public Health. 2008 Jul;36(4):424-8.
- AIM: Induced abortion is an experience shared by a large number of women in Norway, but we know little about the likely social or mental health-related implications of undergoing induced abortion. International studies suggest an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as depression, but many studies are weakened by poor design. One particular problem is the lack of control for confounding factors likely to increase the risk of both abortion and depression. The aim of the study was to investigate whether induced abortion was a risk factor for subsequent depression. METHODS: A representative sample of women from the normal population (n=768) was monitored between the ages of 15 and 27 years. Questions covered depression, induced abortion and childbirth, as well as sociodemographic variables, family relationships and a number of individual characteristics, such as schooling and occupational history and conduct problems. RESULTS: Young women who reported having had an abortion in their twenties were more likely to score above the cut-off point for depression (odds ratio (OR) 3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0-6.1). Controlling for third variables reduced the association, but it remained significant (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7-5.6). There was no association between teenage abortion and subsequent depression. CONCLUSIONS: Young adult women who undergo induced abortion may be at increased risk for subsequent depression.
Depression and termination of pregnancy (induced abortion) in a national cohort of young Australian women: the confounding effect of women's experience of violence. Taft AJ, Watson LF. BMC Public Health. 2008 Feb 26;8:75.
- "The data from the Younger cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health comprised 14,776 women aged 18-23 in Survey I (1996) of whom 9683 aged 22-27 also responded to Survey 2 (2000). With linked data, we distinguished terminations, violence and depression reported before and after 1996.We used logistic regression to examine the association of depression (CES-D 10) as both a dichotomous and linear measure in 2000 with pregnancy termination, numbers of births and with violence separately and then in mutually adjusted models with sociodemographic variables. RESULTS: 30% of young women were depressed. Eleven percent (n = 1076) reported a termination by 2000. A first termination before 1996 and between 1996 and 2000 were both associated with depression in a univariate model (OR 1.37, 95%CI 1.12 to 1.66; OR 1.52, 95%CI 1.24 to 1.87). However, after adjustment for violence, numbers of births and sociodemographic variables (OR 1.22, 95%CI 0.99 to 1.51) this became only marginally significant, a similar association with having two or more births (1.26, 95%CI. 1.00 to 1.58).In contrast, any form of violence but especially that of partner violence in 1996 or 2000, was significantly associated with depression: in univariate (OR 2.31, 95%CI 1.97 to 2.70 or 2.45, 95% CI 1.99 to 3.04) and multivariate models (AOR 2.06, 95%CI 1.74 to 2.43 or 2.12, 95%CI 1.69 to 2.65). Linear regression showed a four fold greater effect of violence than termination or births. CONCLUSION: Violence, especially partner violence, makes a significantly greater contribution to women's depression compared with pregnancy termination or births. Any strategy to reduce the burden of women's depression should include prevention or reduction of violence against women and strengthening women's sexual and reproductive health to ensure that pregnancies are planned and wanted."
"A Developmental Approach to Post-Abortion Depression," Frederick M. Burkle, The Practitioner 218:217, February 1977.
- If the loss is valued depression will occur. To resolve the depression a process of mourning must occur.
"Reproductive Factors Affecting the Course of Affective Illness in Women," B.L. Parry, Psychiatric Clinics of North America 12(1): 207, March, 1989
- Major depressive disorders are increasing with time, the age of onset is becoming earlier, and women continue to show an increased incidence of the disorder. Women are vulnerable to depressions associated with abortion.
"Testing a Model of the Psychological Consequences of Abortion," WB Miller et al in The New Civil War. The Psychology, Culture, and Politics of Abortion, ed. Linda J. Beckman and S Marie Harvey. (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1998)
- A multi-dimensional study of the psychological effects of induced abortion using mifepristone/misoprostol concluded that studies which emphasize unitary responses to abortion such as feelings of shame or guilt, loss or depression, and relief may be missing an important broader picture as what appears to happen following abortion involves not so much a unitary as a broad, multidimensional affective response. Findings suggest that during the first few days or weeks following an abortion, many women's reactions are incomplete and not necessarily representative of subsequent reactions. It is also very likely that different kinds of women follow a different time course. More studies are needed that examine the short-term consequences using sequential "snap shots" and there is more need for more postabortion longitudinal research.
"Personality and Self-Efficacy as Predictors of Coping with Abortion," C Cozzarelli, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65(6): 1224-1236, 1993
- A wide range of depression scores was obtained on women immediately following abortion and at three weeks post-abortion.
Do Depression and Low Self-Esteem Follow Abortion Among Adolescents? Evidence from a National Study Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 42(4):230–235, (2010) Warren, Harvey, and Henderson.
- METHODS: Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used to examine whether abortion in adolescence was associated with subsequent depression and low self-esteem. In all, 289 female respondents reported at least one pregnancy between Wave 1 (1994–1995) and Wave 2 (1996) of the survey. Of these, 69 reported an induced abortion. Population-averaged lagged logistic regression models were used to assess associations between abortion and depression and low self-esteem within a year of the pregnancy and approximately five years later, at Wave 3 (2001–2002).
- RESULTS: Abortion was not associated with depression or low self-esteem at either time point. Socioeconomic and demographic characteristics did not substantially modify the relationships between abortion and the outcomes.
- CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who have an abortion do not appear to be at elevated risk for depression or low self esteem in the short term or up to five years after the abortion.
- EDITOR'S COMMENTS
- This journal is published by the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute which was founded by Planned Parenthood.
- The sample of women who aborted was very small (n= 69) reducing the statistical power.
- This is very important because with small sample size it is much more likely that one will not find any statistically significant results.
- The authors acknowledge on page 234 that “The lack of association between abortion and our outcomes could reflect other factors including insufficient sample size to detect an effect.”
- Very few control variables were employed despite the fact that this data set contains dozens of personal history, personality, relationship, situational, familial, and demographic variables that could have been controlled to isolate the effect of abortion.
- A common tactic of researchers trying to prove "no association" between A and B is to report results based on a small sample and may also include the use of only those control variables which reduce the statistical association.
- The 95% confidence interval reported by the authors (.027-2.09) indicates that it is 95% likely that the true risk of depression following abortion may be anywhere between 27% and 209% of depression rate found among teens who have not been pregnant. In other words, these findings do not contradict research showing higher rates of depression associated with abortion. Given the small sample size, this broad confidence interval is fully consistent with studies using larger populations which find the range of depression to be in the range of 110% to 200% higher than for women without a history of abortion.
- The outcome measures were superficial assessments. Specifically, the measure of depression was an abbreviated 9 item scale and self-esteem was measure with only 4 items.
- The choice of the comparison group is suspect. The comparison group could have been unintended pregnancy carried to term since the data is available in ADD Health, but the researchers chose the broader “no pregnancy” group as their control group. Another study published regarding the same data set which did use unintended pregnancy delivered as the control group found significant associations between abortion history and marijuana usage, having received counseling for psychological or emotional problems, and sleep difficulties. Seeking professional counseling services is a much more valid measure of psychological distress than abbreviated self-report measures, one of which is merely “predictive of depression”. (See Coleman, P. K. (2006). Resolution of unwanted pregnancy during adolescence through abortion versus childbirth: Individual and family predictors and psychological consequences. The Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 903-911.)
Depression Shortly Prior to Abortion
"Bluestein and CM Rutledge, Family Practice Research Journal 13(2): 149-156, 1993
- Moderate to severe depression was found in women seeking abortion. Depression symptoms increased as measures of denial, difficulties with communicating with male partner, pregnancy symptoms, contraceptive use and dissatisfaction with abortion increased.
"Postabortion Psychological Adjustment: Are Minors at Increased Risk?" LM Pope et al, Journal of Adolescent Health 29:2-11, 2001
- Thirty-five percent of young women aged 14-21 exhibited moderate to severe depression on the Beck Depression Inventory shortly prior to abortion.
"Psychological Factors that predict reaction to abortion," D.T. Moseley, D.R. Follingstad, H. Harley, R.V. Heckel, J. of Clinical Psychology 37(2):276,1981
- A University of South Carolina study on women who elected abortion in an urban southern area administered the Multiple Affective Adjective Check List (MAACL) to women when they entered the clinic and a post-test in the recovery room prior to discharge following their abortion. Pre-abortion depression was much higher than the MAACL norms previously reported. Significant decreases in anxiety and depression were noted following abortion but not with respect to hostility. A woman's relationship with her partner was a crucial factor in post-abortion adjustment. Women with negative feelings toward their partners had higher levels of pre-abortion depression and post-abortion depression compared to women who were assisted in the decision by their sexual partners.
"Coping with Abortion," L. Cohen and S. Roth, Journal of Human Stress, Fall, 1984, pp. 140-145.
- Researchers at Duke University of 55 women presenting for abortion a private clinic in Raleigh, NC evaluated symptoms of intrusion, avoidance, depression and anxiety upon their arrival at the clinic and in the recovery room after their abortion. The level of anxiety and depression was measured by the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90). The mean level of depression decreased from 24.1 initially to 18.4 following abortion. Women exhibiting high avoidance had significantly higher level of depression both before and after their abortion compared to women exhibiting low avoidance.
"Psychological Factors Involved in Request for Elective Abortion, M," Blumenfield. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Jan. 1978, pp. 17-25.
- A study of 13 women requesting a first abortion and 13 women requesting a repeat abortion was undertaken at Kings County Hospital Clinic in New York utilizing a largely open-ended interview. The purpose was to determine the surrounding circumstances which gave rise to the request for abortion. It was found that the failure of contraception was not due to lack of access to adequate contraception. In 9 of 26 cases there was evidence of underlying psychological conflicts in the woman. These women were frequently lonely and/or depressed frequently because of isolation, loss of support, loss or separation from loved ones, or due to conflicts with partners. The data suggested that many of the male partners had a strong wish to father a child. The author stated "a pregnancy which leads to a request for an abortion usually reflects an underlying unresolved conflict which is being acted out through the pregnancy--a request for a repeat abortion would seem to indicate that the ambivalence has persisted and is being acted out through pregnancy once again or that a new circumstance has reawakened underlying conflicts.")
Depression During Subsequent Pregnancies
The Impact of Prior Abortion on Anxiety and Depression Symptoms During a Subsequent Pregnancy: Data From a Population-Based Cohort Study in China Huang Z, et al. Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2012;22(1):51-8
- Objective: The aim of the study was to assess anxiety and depression in women with history of spontaneous abortion or induced abortion during a subsequent pregnancy.
- Methods: The data were consecutively obtained from seven maternal and child health (MCH) Centers in the Anhui Province of China. The sociodemographic characteristics of the women, the number of previous pregnancies, number of living children, and gestational age of the current pregnancy were ascertained at the time of the interview.
- Results: The pregnant women who were in the first trimester of their pregnancy reported significantly higher scores than those in the second trimester both on SAS (Zung’s Self-Rating Anxiety Scale) and CES-D (The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale) (SAS score means: 32.11 vs 31.68, P=0.000; CES-D score means: 4.59 vs 4.06, P=0.012). The women with a history of induced abortions were significantly more likely to report more “cases” of depression (OR = 1.543, 95% CI = 1.055- 254) and more “cases” of anxiety (OR = 2.142, 95% CI = 1.294-3.561) during the first trimester than those with no history of abortion. Controlling for confounding variables yielded similar results. However, “cases” of depression and “cases” of anxiety were equally common in women with history of spontaneous abortions and in those with no abortion history.
- Conclusions: These results suggest women who have experienced a previous induced abortion have omnipresent anxiety and depression symptoms during a subsequent pregnancy, specially during the first trimester.
"Abortion and Subsequent Pregnancy," C.F. Bradley, Canadian Journal Psychiatry29:494, Oct-1984.
- A study of 254 pregnant women in Victoria, B.C. were followed from the second trimester of their pregnancy until 12 months post-partum. Twenty-eight women had a prior induced abortion and 216 had no prior induced abortion. Women who had a prior abortion had significantly higher levels of depressive effect in the third trimester of pregnancy (35 weeks gestation) and also at intervals of I month, 6 months and 12 months in the post- partum period. A Depressive Adjective Checklist developed by other researchers was used as the evaluation tool. Women with prior abortions also described themselves as less well-adjusted during the prenatal period and had lower self-esteem in the post- partum period than those without any abortion history. The author suggested that it may have been those factors which were related to their depressive mood.
"The Relationship Between Previous Elective Abortions and Postpartum," Depressive Reactions. N.E. Devore, Journal of Obstetric Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, July/August 1979, pp-237-240
- In a study of 73 women among the obstetrical population at the Hospital of Albert Einstein College during 1975-76, 25 pregnant women who had one abortion and 48 women who were pregnant for the first time were interviewed 6-8 weeks postpartum. Seventy-one percent of the women with abortion history reported they were depressed at the time of the abortion, yet only 12% reported that they had received emotional counseling at the time of the abortion. The range of time from the earlier abortion to the current pregnancy was 2-8 years, mean 3.9 years. Using the Beck Depression Inventory, the study found postpartum moderate depression in 16% of women with a prior abortion compared to 12% of the women without any abortion. Eighty percent of the women with abortion history compared to 56% without abortion history reported the "baby blues." The study suggested that a few women who have had a previous elective abortion will still experience feelings of guilt or depression in connection with it. Spontaneous comment from the women with abortion history suggested that anxiety during pregnancy concurring the infants health was a greater source of discomfort than was post-partum depression.
"Previous induced abortion and ante-natal depression in primipare: preliminary report of a survey of mental health in pregnancy," R. Kumar, K. Robson, Psychological Medicine8:711-715, 1978
- A British study of 119 pregnant women found an association between a previous abortion (legal or illegal) and depression and anxiety in an early subsequent pregnancy. An intensification of fears of fetal abnormality was noted in women having had a prior abortion. The study concluded that "unresolved feelings of guilt, grief and loss may remain dormant long after an abortion until they are apparently re-awakened by another pregnancy. Normal anxieties about the now desired fetus are intensified and such fears are often spontaneously interpreted in terms of retribution."
A Prospective Study of Emotional Disorders in Childbearing Women, R Kumar, K Robson, Brit J Psychiat 144:35-47, 1984
- Prior induced abortion was associated with ante-natal depression and anxiety; thoughts about obtaining abortion was associated with both ante-natal and post-natal depression and anxiety.
"Psychiatric Morbidity in a Pregnant Population in Nigeria," OA Abiodun et. al General Hospital Psychiatry 15: 125-128, 1993
- A previous history of induced abortion was significantly associated with psychiatric morbidity (mostly anxiety and neurotic depression) among 240 married Christian and Muslim women attending an antenatal clinic.
"Psychological and social correlates of the onset of affective disorders among pregnant women," T Kitamura et al, Psychological Medicine 23:967-975, 1993
- A Japanese study found that among women with previous pregnancy, pregnancy-related affective disorder was recognized among 27% of those expecting their first baby where there had been a previous termination of pregnancy compared to 3% of women who had no previous termination of pregnancy.
Anniversary Depressive Reactions
"Aftermath of Abortion. Anniversary Depression and Abdominal Pain. J.O," Cavenar Jr A.A. Maltbie, J.L. Sullivan, Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 42(5):433438, 1978
- A case study was presented in which a woman had an apparently uneventful abortion, but which resulted in a depressive reaction which arose during the week of her expected delivery, necessitating psychiatric care.
"Adolescent Suicide Attempts Following Elective Abortion," C Tischler, Pediatrics 68(5):670, 1981
- Adolescents attempted suicide on the perceived due date for their aborted child.
"Psychoses Following Therapeutic Abortion," J.G. Spaulding, J.O. Cavenar, Am.J.. Psychiatry 135(3):364, March 1978. (A case study of a 24 year old unmarried women who experienced post abortion insomnia, anorexia, agitation and severe depression that necessitated hospitalization 9 months after the time the child would have been conceived.
"Postabortion Depressive Reactions in College Women," N.B. Gould, J.Am. College Health Association 28:316320, 1980.
- In a study of college women at Harvard University during 1978-79, cases of 3 women who had abortions are described who each experienced depressive reactions at the time of the expected delivery date which adversely affected classroom performance.
"Post-Abortion Perceptions: A Comparison of Self-Identified Distressed and Nondistressed Populations," GK Congleton and LG Calhoun, The International Journal of Social Psychiatry 39(4): 255, 1993
- Women who reported post-abortion distress were more likely to report depression around the anniversary date of the abortion or the due date for birth compared to women who reported relieving/neutral responses specifically related to the baby, insomnia, inability to concentrate on studies, divisiveness in their relationships with partners, suicidal ideation, bouts of crying, inability to be consoled.
"Anniversary Reactions and Due Date Responses Following Abortion, K," Franco, N. Campbell, M. Taburrino. S. Jurs. J. Pentz, C. Evans, Psychother Psychosom 52:151-154, 1989.
- In a study of 83 women in a patient-led post abortion support group in Ohio, 30 reported anniversary reactions associated with the abortion or the due date. Mean scores on the Beck Depression Inventory were 6.5 for those reporting anniversary reactions and 5.5 for those not reporting anniversary reactions. Those reporting anniversary reactions frequently reported physical symptoms including abdominal pain, dyspareunia, headaches and chest pain.
Depressive Reactions from Genetic Abortion
"Psychological impact on women after second and third trimester termination of pregnancy due to fetal anomalies versus women after preterm birth--a 14-month follow up study." Kersting A, Kroker K, Steinhard J, Hoernig-Franz I, Wesselmann U, Luedorff K, Ohrmann P, Arolt V, Suslow T. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2009 Aug;12(4):193-201. Epub 2009 Mar 6.
- "The objective of this study was to compare psychiatric morbidity and the course of posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety in two groups with severe complications during pregnancy, women after termination of late pregnancy (TOP) due to fetal anomalies and women after preterm birth (PRE). As control group women after the delivery of a healthy child were assessed. A consecutive sample of women who experienced a) termination of late pregnancy in the 2nd or 3rd-trimester (N = 62), or b) preterm birth (N = 43), or c) birth of a healthy child (N = 65) was investigated 14 days (T1), 6 months (T2), and 14 months (T3) after the event. At T1, 22.4% of the women after TOP were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder compared to 18.5% women after PRE, and 6.2% in the control group. The corresponding values at T3 were 16.7%, 7.1%, and 0%. Shortly after the event, a broad spectrum of diagnoses was found; however, 14 months later only affective and anxiety disorders were diagnosed. Posttraumatic stress and clinician-rated depressive symptoms were highest in women after TOP. The short-term emotional reactions to TOP in late pregnancy due to fetal anomaly appear to be more intense than those to preterm birth. Both events can lead to severe psychiatric morbidity with a lasting psychological impact."
"The psychological sequelae of abortion performed for a genetic indication," B.D. Blumberg, M.S. Globus, K.H. Hanson, Am.J. Obstet Gynecol 122(7):799, August 1, 1975.
- In a study of 13 families where abortion was undergone due to a genetic defect in the fetus, the incidence of depression among women was as high as 92% among the women and 82% among the men. This was higher than elective abortion. Four families experienced separations during the pregnancy-abortion period.
"Sequelae and Support After Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Malformation," J. Lloyd and KM Laurence, British Medical Journal 290:907-909, March 1985.
- Seventy-seven percent of the women experienced an acute grief reaction following termination of pregnancy for fetal malformation. Forty-six percent still remained symptomatic after six months, some requiring psychiatric support. Depression with anxiety, often with considerable repressed anger, was noted. Severity of the reaction ranged from mild tearfulness, sadness, lethargy and insomnia to incapacitating grief with somatic symptoms, and finally to complete withdrawal. There was no opportunity to mourn. Some women had named the baby, usually secretly, which seemed to help the grieving process. Several would have liked some burial or formal recognition of the death. Several had problems severe enough to influence reproductive behavior.
Short Term Depressive Reactions
"Outcome Following Therapeutic Abortion," E.C. Payne, A.R. Kravitz, M.T. Notman, J.V. Anderson, Arch Gen Psychiatry 33:725, June 1976.
- A study of 102 women evaluated anxiety depression, anger, guilt and shame in women prior to abortion and at 24 hours, 6 weeks and 6 months following their abortion with respect to a multiple number of variables. Depressive reactions were significantly reduced following abortions although mild to moderate depression was still present in women 6 months after their abortion. Factors that significantly increased the likelihood of post abortion depression were immature object relationships, younger women, Catholic religion, no prior children, previous mental illness, borderline personality, a negative relationship with mother, a bad relationship with children, conflict with lover, ambivalence to abortion.
"Induced abortion operations and their early sequelae," P.I. Frank, C.R. Kay, S.L. Winsgrave, Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 35:175, 1985.
- In this British study those with a history of depression had a rate of post abortion depression which was 2.59 times higher than expected.
"Pregnancy Decision Making as a Significant Life Event: A Commitment Approach," J Lydon et al, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71(1): 141-151, 1996
- Initial commitment to the pregnancy prior to abortion predicted subsequent depression, guilt and hostility postabortion.
"Therapeutic Abortion and a Prior Psychiatric History," J.A. Ewing, B.A. Rouse, Am J. Psychiatry 130(l):37, January, 1973.
- A North Carolina study of 126 women who had abortions in 1970-71 found that 36% of the women with a history of psychiatric problems reported depression following abortion compared with only 11% of the women who reported no prior psychiatric history. The responses ranged from a few weeks to two years post abortion. Women with a psychiatric history prior to abortion also had higher incidence of crying spells, anxiety, sleeplessness, worry and guilt.
"Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescent and Young Adult Females: Effects of Pregnancy Resolution," J. Mesaros, D. Larson and J. Lyons, presented to the American Society for Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York, New York, March 1990
- A case / control of study of depressive symptoms in women 17-25 years of age compared women with prior induced abortion, delivery, spontaneous abortion and never pregnant on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Women with prior abortion had the highest frequency of depressive symptoms. Higher scores were found in women where there was a perceived loss of control in the decision to terminate, negative feelings about the termination and little meaningful religious experience.
"Attributions, Expectations and Coping with Abortion," B. Major, P. Mueller, K. Hildebrandt, J. of Personality and Social Psychology 48(3):585, 1985.
- A study of 247 women who underwent abortions in a free-standing abortion clinic in a large U.S. metropolitan area found that their immediate (30 minutes post abortion) depression level following their abortion was mean of 4.17 (range 0-22) on the Beck Depression Inventory. Three weeks later on a sample of 99 women who later responded the mean response on the Beck Depression Inventory was a mean of 2.93 (range 0-17) on the Beck Depression Inventory.
"Law. Preventive Psychiatry and Therapeutic Abortion," H.I. Levene, F. J. Rigney, The J. of Nervous and Mental Disease 151(l):51, 1970.
- A California study of 70 women who were granted a therapeutic abortion under California law found that 14% reported an increase in depressive symptomology 3-5 months post abortion.
"Short-term Psychiatric Sequelae to Therapeutic Termination of Pregnancy," B. Lask, Br. J. Psychiatry 126:173-177, 1975.
- Fifty inpatients from a London hospital who underwent abortion were interviewed 6 months later. Thirty-two per cent had unfavorable outcomes. The outcome was considered unfavorable when the following criteria were fulfilled: (1) the patient regretted termination: (2) the patient had moderate or severe feelings of loss, guilt or self-reproach: (3) there was evidence of mental illness in the same degree as, or more severe than before the abortion. When moderate or severe adverse sequelae were reported, these were usually associated with depressive states. These varied in intensity from mild to sufficiently severe to necessitate hospital admission.
"Women's Self-Reported Responses to Abortion," G.M. Burnell, M.A. Norfleet, The Journal of Psychology 12(l):71-76
- A study of 158 women who were members of a prepaid health plan in northern California reported in responding to a mailed questionnaire found that 17% reported depression following abortion which was the highest endorsement under a section entitled -worsened adjustment after abortion. The length of time from the time of the abortion and the questionnaire varied. A majority of the women completed the questionnaire within one and a half years after abortion.
"Long-term psychiatric follow-up," C. McCance, P. Olley, V. Edward in Experience with Abortion. Ed. G. Horobin, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1973) 245-300.
- This study found that 20% of the original sample of women who underwent induced abortion were depressed 13-24 months thereafter according to the Beck Depression Inventory.
"Psychological Responses of Women After First-Trimester Abortion," B Major et al, Arch Gen Psychiatry 57:777, 2000
- 20% of women had depression 2 years postabortion. Prepregnancy depression was a risk factor for postabortion depression. Negative postabortion emotions increased over time. Younger age and more children preabortion also predicted more negative abortion responses.
"Emotional Distress Patterns Among Women Having First or Repeat Abortions," E.W. Freeman, K. Rickels, G.R. Huggins, Obstetrics and Gynecology 55(5):630, May, 1980.
- A study of 413 women at the University Hospital in 1977-78 using the SCL-90, a multidimensional self-report inventory measured depression before abortion and 2 weeks following abortion. The adjusted mean value prior to abortion was 1.06. After 2 weeks the adjusted mean value was 0.60 (one abortion) and 0.74 (two abortions). Women who repeated abortions showed significantly higher scores on interpersonal sensitivity, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety and sleep disturbance compared to women with one abortion.
"Before and after therapeutic abortion," P. Mackenzie, Canadian Medical Association Journal 111:667, October 5, 1974.
- A 1973 study at Queens University School of Medicine of 150 Canadian women two weeks post abortion had 53% respond to a questionnaire survey. Based on self reports of the women 39% said they were depressed a lot from the pregnancy (21% said they were a little depressed). Two weeks post abortion 4% said they were depressed a lot from the abortion and 28% said they were depressed a little and 39% said they were not at all depressed.
"Induced abortion after feeling fetal movements: Its causes and emotional consequences," C. Brewer, J. Biosocial Science 10:203-208.
- In a study of 40 women who had abortions between 20-24 weeks gestation. Twenty-five were followed-up 30 months post abortion. Five reported feeling depressed about their abortion. One had taken time off from school or work for this reason. None had sought specialist advice.
Long Term Depressive Reactions
- Defined here as reactions five years or more since abortion.
"Psychological profile of dysphoric women post abortion," K.N. Franco, M. Tamburrino, N. Campbell, J. Pentz, S. Jurs, J. of the American Medical Women's Assoc. 44(4):113, July/Aug. 1989.
- In a survey of 81 women approximately 10 years post abortion who were in a patient led support group for women who described themselves as having poorly assimilated their abortion experience, the mean Beck Depression Inventory Score for all women studied was 5.3 (mild depression). For women with one abortion it was 4.7 (none to minimal depression). For women with multiple abortions it was 9.4 (moderate depression). Other risk factors for post abortion dysphoria were pre morbid psychiatric illness, lack of family support, ambivalence and feeling coerced into having a abortion.
Post-Abortion Trauma, Jeanette Vought, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991).
- A study of 68 religiously oriented, primarily Protestant women who were studied 10-15 years post-abortion, 76% reported depression as one of the emotional effects of abortion.
"A Survey of Postabortion Reactions," David C. Reardon, (Springfield, IL: The Elliot Institute for Social Science Research, 1987).
- In a 1987 Survey of Postabortion reactions among 100 women members of Women Exploited by Abortion an average of 11 years since their abortion, 87% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "After my abortion I experienced feelings of depression." Fifty per cent of these women were 20 years of age or younger at the time of their abortion.
Psycho-Social Stress Following Abortion, Anne Speckhard, (Kansas City MO: Sheed & Ward, 1987).
- In a study of 30 women who reported chronic and long term stress from their abortion 92% expressed feelings of depression following abortion. Fifty per cent of these women had their abortion in the second trimester (46%) or third trimester (4%) of their pregnancy. The majority (64%) had their abortion 5-10 years previously, 20% were less than 5 years and 16% ranged from 11-25 years post abortion.
"Depression associated with abortion and childbirth: A long-term analysis of the NLSY cohort," JR Cougle et al, Clinical Method & Health Research NetPrints, April 25, 2001 (Abstract)
- This study used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which contains a number of psychological variables related to pregnancy outcome. Compared to post-childbirth women, women who had abortions were found to have significantly higher depression scores as measured an average of 10 years after their pregnancy outcome. Post-abortion women were also 41% more likely to score in the "high risk " range for clinical depression compared to non-aborting women. A self-assessment questionnaire administered in 1998 also found that aborting women were 73% more likely to complain of "depression, excessive worry, or nervous trouble of any kind" compared to women with other pregnancy outcomes.
"Psychiatric history and mental status," W.L. Sands in Diagnosing Mental lllness:Evaluation in Psychiatry and Psychology, Eds. Freedman and Kaplan, (New York: Athenum, 1973) 31.
- "The significance of abortions may not be revealed until later periods of emotional depression. During depressions occurring in the fifth or sixth decades of the patient's life, the psychiatrist frequently hears expressions of remorse and guilt concerning abortions that occurred twenty or more years earlier."