Studies – Depression / Suicide / Mental Health

Commentary: The "Hypocritic" Oath? Abortion Has Consequences for Mental Health (BJP, 11/09)

By Michael Pakaluk Imagine that in a certain country there was a pain-killing drug that patients really wanted to take because it improved their mood. The legislature of this country had passed a law, however, saying that, in view of this drug's power, physicians could prescribe it only if a dose of the drug would stave off some serious threat to a patient's health. In fact, for someone to get this drug at all, two physicians had to sign a certificate averring that, if the patient did not receive it, then his health would be seriously at risk. Now imagine that since the time the drug was discovered, and the law passed, various studies had been carried out suggesting that the drug was actually harmful to someone's health. There was evidence that even one dose seemed to increase substantially a person's risk of developing various kinds of serious health problems. Nonetheless, the doctors in this country still continued to prescribe the drug to their patients, certifying that it was necessary for health reasons, while pocketing handsome consulting fees in the process. Sounds pretty corrupt, don't you think? A situation ripe for a class-action lawsuit, you might suppose. Maybe it would even seem unbelievable that professionals, who profess a code of ethics, could act in this way: Certify something as healthy, when they had good reason to think that it was actually bad for their patient's health. Yet a recent study suggests that this is exactly how doctors in some countries behave regarding abortion. Conflicted The study, "Reactions to Abortion and Subsequent Mental Health" (British Journal of Psychiatry, November 2009),...

Study Shows 85 Percent of Women Say Abortions Cause Mental Health Issues (BJP, 11/2009)

Study Shows 85 Percent of Women Say Abortions Cause Mental Health Issues A new report from researchers at a university in New Zealand indicates 85 percent of women who had abortions report negative mental health issues as a result. The report is the latest from professor David Fergusson and his team showing abortions cause problems for women. The University of Otago team examined the medical history of over 500 women and concluded having an abortion generally “leads to significant distress in some” women who have them. It noted women reporting adverse reactions to their abortions were up to 80 percent more likely to have mental health problems and risk of mental illness was “proportional to the degree of distress” associated with the abortion. The study, which appears in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, examined data from women who had been interviewed six times between the ages of 15 and 30 and who were asked if they were pregnant and, if so, the outcome of the pregnancy. More than 85 percent of women reported negative reactions to their abortions including sorrow, sadness, guilt, regret, grief and disappointment. The study revealed that women who have abortions face more negative mental health problems resulting from that pregnancy outcome as compared with women who keep their baby and carry to term. Women having abortions had rates of mental health problems “approximately 1.4 to 1.8 times higher than women not exposed to abortion." Ultimately, Fergusson and his team said there is little justification for saying that legal abortions should be promoted on the basis of a improving a woman's mental...

The Relationship Between Dating Violence and Psychosocial Problems in a Sample of Adolescent Pregnancy Termination Patients

Violence and Victims, October 2009 DOI: 10.1891/0886-6708.24.5.577 Source: PubMed http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gretchen_Ely/publication/38031890_The_Relationship_Between_Dating_Violence_and_Psychosocial_Problems_in_a_Sample_of_Adolescent_Pregnancy_Termination_Patients/links/542c148f0cf29bbc126b2f3e.pdf Abstract Background: The relationship between suicidal thinking and adolescent dating violence has not been previously explored in a sample of adolescent abortion patients. Aims: This paper highlights a study where the relationship between dating violence and severity of suicidal thinking was examined in a sample of 120 young women ages 14-21 seeking to terminate an unintended pregnancy. Methods: The Multidimensional Adolescent Assessment Scale and the Conflict in Adolescent Relationships Scale was used to gather information about psychosocial problems and dating violence so that the relationship between the two problems could be examined, while controlling for the other psychosocial problems. Results: The results suggest that dating violence was related to severity of suicidal thinking, and that the magnitude of this relationship was moderated by the severity of problems with aggression. Conclusions: Specifically, as the severity of participant’s general problems with aggression increased, the magnitude of the relationship between dating violence and severity of suicidal thinnking increased. Limitations of the study and implications for practice are discussed. A compelling case can be made for examining problems such as suicidal behaviors and dating violence in adolescent abortion patients, as literature suggests that young women who experience unintended pregnancy may be at an increased risk of both. In one longitudinal study, results indicate that young women who reported a previous abortion also reported elevated rates of mental health problems that included suicidal behaviors, depression, and anxiety (Fergusson, Horwood, & Ritter [in refs Ridder?], 2005). Results from another analysis of this longitudinal data indicate that women who had prior abortions had a 30% greater...

Suicide Trends Among Young & Adult Women (JAMA 9/08, AJPM 12/08)

Suicide Risk on the Rise For Teens and Adult Women, Too   “Parents are faced with a shell of a person and have no idea where they lost their child.” -Teri, who had a secret abortion as a teen  A troubling 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that teen suicide rates are on the rise. According to the study, there was an 18% increase in teen suicides in 2004—the largest single-year increase in the past 15 years—and the upward trend continued in the next year. 1   Experts and parents are concerned about this upswing in youth suicides, and many are also troubled by the results of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found a 4% annual increase in suicides among Caucasian women age 40 to 64. The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2 Elliot Institute research over the years has indicated disturbingly high suicide rates among teens and women who have had abortions. After abortion there is a 65% higher risk of clinical depression. 3 Most suffer symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), 4 made worse by societal dismissal of the grief or blanket condemnation of women who've had an abortion. Suicide rates are 6 times higher after abortion 5 and there are few checks and balances for coercion or post-abortion issues in schools, clinics, hospitals and even social services or pastoral care. Not only do most fail to screen for evidence of unwanted, coerced, inadequately or deceptively informed or even forced abortion; some contribute to the insidious and often collective synergy of coercion. Few make...

Isolating the Effects of Abortion on Mental Health Problems (JPR, 11/08)

Study Shows Direct Link Between Abortion and Mental Health Problems   On 28 November08, an American study was published with the same general results: "Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating the effects of abortion in the national comorbidity survey", Journal of Psychiatric Research, November 2008   A research study featuring numerous controls and a national data set finds a link between abortion and psychiatric disorders. The study refutes the report the American Psychiatric Association released in August claiming abortion causes no mental health issues for women. The research team found induced abortions result in increased risks for a myriad of mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders.   The number of cases of mental health issues rose by as much as 17 percent in women having abortions compared to those who did not have one and the risks of each particular mental health problem rose as much as 145% for post-abortive women.   For 12 out of 15 of the mental health outcomes examined, a decision to have an abortion resulted in an elevated risk for women.   "Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables," they wrote.   "Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders," they concluded.   Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of...

"Abortion and Mental Health Disorders: Evidence from a 30-year Longitudinal Study" (BJP, 12/08)

"Abortion and Mental Health Disorders: Evidence from a 30-year Longitudinal Study" in the British Journal of Psychiatry, December 2008 Women who have an abortion are at 3-fold risk of developing drug or alcohol addiction. After an abortion, women are 30% more likely to have mental disorders as compared to other women, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study, 12/08). According to Professor David Fergusson, who led the research that reviewed 500 women, the findings have “important implications”: more than 90% of British abortions were authorized on the grounds that keeping an unwanted baby would cause the mother mental health problems. “This evidence clearly poses a challenge to the use of psychiatric reasons to justify abortion. There is nothing in this study that would suggest that the termination of pregnancy was associated with lower risks of mental health problems than birth.” [The Daily Mail].   Another study has shown that women who lose a baby when they are 21 – either through an abortion or a miscarriage – are 3 times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem than others. Researcher Kaeleen Dingle [Univ of Queensland, Australia] said: “Abortion and miscarriage are stressful life events that have been shown to lead to anxiety, sadness and grief and, for some women, serious depression & substance use disorders.”   [David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, and Joseph M. Boden, Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Dec 2008; 193: 444 – 451]   ABSTRACT: The British Journal...

Abortion & Anxiety (JAD)

Women who have abortions are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety problems, substance abuse, sexual disorders, and suicidal thoughts. This study, published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, found that among women with unintended first pregnancies, thos who aborted were 30 percent more likely to suffer from symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of unreality. Researchers were able to exclude other factors that contribute to anxiety, such as race and age. “One of the criticisms of this kind of research is that if you find a link between abortion and anxiety, it’s because thw women were already anxious or in poor life circumstances,” Cougle said. “The fact that we were able to control for those variables and still find a significant relationship suggests the abortion was a causal factor.” The team examined data obtained from nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevnetion’s 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. All had unintended first pregnancies, but no previous reports of anxiety. Lead author Jesse Cougle,...

Induced Abortion and Traumatic Stress: Preliminary Comparison of American, Russian women (MSM,11/04)

Trauma Symptoms After Abortion Are Common Post-traumatic reactions to induced abortion may be far more common than previously thought, according to a study published in the Medical Science Monitor. Sixty-five percent of American women studied experienced multiple symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which they attributed to their abortions. Slightly over 14 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion induced PTSD. Researchers gathered data from women seeking general health care treatment at clinics and hospitals in both the United States and Russia. Women with a history of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage or abortion, were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences. The sub-sample used in this study included 331 Russian women and 217 American women. American women were significantly more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their abortions, while Russian women were more likely to report disruption of cognitive schema, which is described as the equivalent of one's "psychological road map" for understanding the world and one's place in it. Both Russian and American women were more likely to experience negative reactions to abortion if they had prior negative opinions of abortion, felt pressured into unwanted abortions, were more religious, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion. American women were more likely to report being exposed to one or more of these risk factors. For example, 64 percent of American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian women. In addition, only 25 percent of American women reported receiving adequate counseling prior to their abortions compared to 64 percent of the...

Abortion has Stronger Emotional Impact on Women than Miscarriage (CMAJ,5/2003; BJOG; PM,5/04)

Researchers in Norway have found that abortion presents a more significant damaging emotional impact on women than miscarriage. The study found that women who had an abortion two years ago were more likely than women who had miscarriages to be suppressing thoughts and feelings about the death of the baby. Overall, the study revealed that approximately 17% of 80 post-abortive women surveyed score highly on a scale measuring "avoidance" symptoms [Reuters]. Such symptoms include avoidance of what happened or "intrusion," such as flashbacks or bad dreams. There were 120 women included in the Norwegian survey — 80 who had abortions prior to the 14th week of pregnancy and 40 who had miscarriages during the first or second trimester. The study found that 10 days after an abortion decision half of those who miscarried and nearly 30 percent of women who had abortions had negative feelings about the event. Women were asked to chart their feelings at 10 days, 6 months and two year time periods. Those more likely to experience guilt and shame early on from the abortion were more likely to have such feelings later on. Georgette Forney [abortion survivor, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, that urges women who regret their abortions to speak out] was glad more research is being conducted into abortion's aftereffects. "Finally, someone is studying the pain women experience from pregnancy loss by abortion or miscarriage," Forney said.   "My experience is that women who miscarry are usually given a small window of sympathy, but women who have abortions often resort to using drugs and alcohol to cover up the pain because...

Suicides After Pregnancy In Finland, 1987-1994: Register Linkage Study (BMJ,1996) (other studies)

This is a record-based study… "This study was an attempt to document suicides taking place within a year after the end of pregnancy. A review of registry data covering all deaths of Finnish women of childbearing age in the years 1987 to 1994 yielded 73 suicides associated with pregnancy…Suicide was most likely in the first 2 postpartum months. The risk was highest for women of 35 to 39 years of age…As in the general population, more than 80 percent of abortions followed by suicide were elected for social reasons. "Women committing suicide were more likely than their counterparts in the general population to be single (19 percent vs. 6 percent) and divorced (7 percent vs. 1 percent)… "The suicide rate associated with birth was 5.9 percent; the rates associated with miscarriage and induced abortion in the population study were 18.1 percent and 34 percent, respectively. …The data suggest that miscarriage is not as important a risk factor as induced abortion, but is clearly more important than birth (Brit Medical Jour 1996; 313:1431). "Among women who committed suicide after an abortion, the lower social classes were over-represented. Suicide, mental disease, life events, social class, and social support interact in very complex ways. "The present findings clearly show, however, that women having an abortion are at increased risk of committing suicide…We need to heighten our awareness that depression can and does occur after spontaneous or induced abortion, fetal or neonatal death, or normal pregnancy…  "In the United States…in 1991, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death among all women in the 15 to 24 years age group and the sixth...

Clinical Depression Linked To Abortion (BMJ,1/2002; AJO, 7/2002, MSM, 5/2003)

Three Reports: BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL FINDS CLINICAL DEPRESSION LINKED TO ABORTION AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ORTHOPSYCHIATRY REPORTS ABORTION CAN CAUSE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS MEDICAL SCIENCE MONITOR: women whose first pregnancies ended in abortion were 65% more likely to score in the 'high-risk' range for clinical depression The British Medical Journal reports that women who abort a first pregnancy are at greater risk of subsequent long term clinical depression compared to women who carry an unintended first pregnancy to term. Publication of the study coincided with anniversary events related to the Supreme Court's January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Data from a national study of American youths, begun in 1979, was used to conduct the research. In 1992, a subset of 4,463 women were surveyed about depression, intendedness of pregnancy, and pregnancy outcome. A total of 421 women had had their first abortion or first unintended delivery between 1980 and 1992. An average of eight years after their abortions, married women who had aborted were 138 percent more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term. Among women who were unmarried in 1992, rates of high risk depression were not significantly different. The authors suggest that the lack of significance in unmarried women may be explained by the higher rate of non-reporting of abortions among unmarried women. Compared with national averages, unmarried women in this study report only 30 percent of the expected abortions compared with married women, who report 74 percent of the expected abortions. This may make the results for married women more...

Abortion Followed by Mental Health Problems (CMAJ,5/2003)

Women who have an abortion are more likely to be hospitalized afterward for psychiatric care, compared to women who carry their baby to term, according to a landmark new U.S. study. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is based on a review of the medical records of 56,741 California women. It revealed that those who had abortions were 2.6 times more likely than women carrying a child to term to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following the abortion or the birth.   All of the women in the study were free of any psychiatric hospital admissions or pregnancies in the year before the study. This latest study is likely to deal a blow to the conventional medical wisdom that abortion is therapeutic for women in a crisis pregnancy. Over 110,000 abortions are carried out each year in Canada, ending 1 in every 3 pregnancies. This latest CA study suggests that, aside from the public moral controversy created by abortion, there may be serious public mental health concerns for women who make this choice. [www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/168/10/1253, Canadian Medical Association Journal, 5/03; 13May03, Canadian Physicians for Life W Johnston, MD, Pres. Vancouver, BC; Janet Les, Chilliwack, BC V2P6H4; (604)794-3772 www.physiciansforlife.ca; 14May03, Pro-Life E-News, # 179]...

BMJ: Clinical Depression Linked to Abortion (BMJ,1/02, 5/03)

BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL FINDS CLINICAL DEPRESSION LINKED TO ABORTION; and AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ORTHOPSYCHIATRY REPORTS ABORTION CAN CAUSE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS The British Medical Journal reports that women who abort a first pregnancy are at greater risk of subsequent long term clinical depression compared to women who carry an unintended first pregnancy to term. Publication of the study coincided with anniversary events related to the Supreme Court's January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Data from a national study of American youths, begun in 1979, was used to conduct the research. In 1992, a subset of 4,463 women were surveyed about depression, intendedness of pregnancy, and pregnancy outcome. A total of 421 women had had their first abortion or first unintended delivery between 1980 and 1992. An average of eight years after their abortions, married women who had aborted were 138 percent more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term. Among women who were unmarried in 1992, rates of high risk depression were not significantly different. The authors suggest that the lack of significance in unmarried women may be explained by the higher rate of non-reporting of abortions among unmarried women.   Compared with national averages, unmarried women in this study report only 30 percent of the expected abortions compared with married women, who report 74 percent of the expected abortions. This may make the results for married women more reliable, say the authors. Another explanation is that unmarried women who are raising a child without the support of a husband experience significantly...

Women's/Teens' Mental Health Declines After Abortion (APS,6/2000)

Two Studies –Women who undergo abortions are at greater risk for mental health problems in subsequent years, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society (APS) held 6/00 in FL. The study looked at CA women who received state funded medical care and who either had an abortion or gave birth in 1989. Researchers examined the women's medical records for up to six years afterwards and found that women who had undergone abortions had significantly higher mental health claims than women who had given birth. Women who had abortions were more than twice as likely to have 2 – 9 treatments for mental health as women who carried to term. According to the authors, Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a psychology professor at the University of the South and Dr David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, "the data presented in this report suggest that when compared to birth, abortion is associated with a significantly greater risk for psychological disturbance among low income women." Reardon said "the few long-term studies that have been done show that many women's problems don't start cropping up until at least a year or so after the abortion, often when they reach the expected due date of the child or the anniversary of the abortion itself. By examining a larger period of time, this study was able to get a broader look at the association between abortion and subsequent mental health problems."   Yet another new study that presented at the APS conference by researchers from the University at Albany in New York found that teens who had children...

Abortion Contributes To Increased Suicide Rates (NIH,8/2003)

A report from the National Institutes of Health finds that not only are girls and young women more likely to think about committing suicide; they're much more likely to follow through.   Abortion is partly to blame for the increase…     Dr. David Reardon [dir, Elliot Inst]: "Given the fact that more than half of all women having abortions are under the age of 25, and more than 20 percent of women having abortions are teenagers, the increased suicide rate among teens and young women is sadly not a surprise". An Elliot Institute study published in 8/03 Southern Medical Journal found that women who had abortions were 7 times more likely to commit suicide than women who gave birth. [LifeNews.com, #3199, 3Mar04]...