What is abortion?
Before we understand what post-abortion syndrome is, we must understand what abortion is. According to the Ministry of Health’s Humanized Care for Abortion technical standard, abortion is defined as “ interruption of pregnancy until the 20th-22nd week and with the product of conception weighing less than 500 g”. The term abortion is often used synonymously with abortion, but abortion is defined as the product of conception that was eliminated during abortion.
Abortion has different causes , such as hormonal changes, chromosomal abnormalities , infections, anatomical changes and thrombophilia. It can also be provoked by the mother, a practice that is considered illegal in the country.
Brazilian legislation allows abortion when there is no other way to save the life of the pregnant woman and if the pregnancy is the result of rape. The Federal Supreme Court (STF) also defined that abortion is not a crime in cases of anencephaly, that is, in situations in which the baby has a malformation in which the absence of a large part of the brain structures is observed.
What is postabortion syndrome?
Post-abortion syndrome is a term used in reference to a series of similar negative symptoms seen in patients who have experienced an abortion . After this occurrence, the woman may experience several negative feelings regarding the loss of the baby, such as guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration and anguish.
Many women who have suffered from an abortion have nightmares about the baby, frustration of the maternal instinct, high interest in babies, low self-esteem, desire to end the relationship, loss of sexual interest, grief on the anniversary of the death, and flashbacks of the abortion experience. These feelings can lead to the development of serious psychological problems such as depression. In addition, the woman, after the loss, may develop self-punishing behaviors , which include excessive alcohol consumption and eating disorders.
In the case of induced abortions, some studies show that the symptoms can remain for a long period, and it is estimated that depression and anxiety can last up to five years. In situations of abortion triggered by natural causes, depression and anxiety last for a shorter time, being usually present in the first six months.
It is worth noting that the so-called post-abortion syndrome is not a syndrome accepted by the entire medical community. According to some authors, abortion does not increase the risk of depression, anxiety or other psychological problems more than giving birth or an unwanted pregnancy. In addition, several authors argue that abortion does not always provoke negative feelings, and it has been verified that, in many women, the feeling experienced is one of relief. There are still those who argue that the term post-abortion syndrome was a condition invented with the intention of making people give up on having abortions.
Although there is no official diagnosis of postabortion syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is important to note that abortion, whether induced or not, can be a traumatic event for some women . Each person will respond differently to abortion, this response being related, for example, to whether or not the pregnancy is wanted and whether or not there is support from the partner.
It is important for the woman to seek psychological help if she realizes that the emotions experienced after an abortion are very difficult to bear.