Post-abortion stress syndrome (also known as PASS) or Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is something that you may have heard of. It is a condition that is believed to be an extension of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. While PASS is a condition that is debated by some people, we at H3Helpline have seen thousands of women who are traumatized from their abortion experience.

We are a national Helpline for Abortion Recovery. Every day, our phone coaches listen to the pain of women who are struggling with the emotional aftermath of an abortion. This is no longer something that can be debated and ignored. These women aren’t lying nor are they seeking attention. They just simply want to heal.

So what is PASS and how can one find healing? These are the questions we are going to answer in today’s blog.

What is PASS?

During the pregnancy process, your body is flooded with hormones that alter your brain chemistry. After receiving an abortion, your brain halts the production of these chemicals, causing a whiplash-like situation that leaves your brain in a state of confusion.

This can also be compounded by the feelings leading up to the abortion procedure. The decision to have an abortion is a tremendous decision often surrounded by intense emotions, and these emotions are often handled by everyone differently. With some women or men, they are left with a state of PTSD known as post abortion stress syndrome or PASS.

Understanding Symptoms of PASS

Every woman’s experience with abortion is a unique story that’s filled with unique circumstances and differing emotions. However, many of these women face similar symptoms that can be seen again and again. Sadly, many women feel like they have to ignore and suppress symptoms of PASS because they fear that those around them will focus on only one aspect of their story: that they had an abortion.

We currently live in a time where many mental health issues are openly accepted; we no longer shame those who suffer from depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. So why do women suffering from post-abortion syndrome feel uneasy coming forward?

While we live in an age of mental health acceptance, we also live in a time of extreme political division and abortion is a hot topic and the focus of many debates. In order to make it so women are comfortable discussing their struggles with post-abortion stress syndrome, we need to set aside our political views and simply lend a compassionate ear and heart to those who are hurting silently.

Some of the common symptoms of PASS are:

 

Depression & Emotional Numbness

The feeling of being depressed after an abortion is one of the most common symptoms of PASS. You may begin to feel a lack of interest in what were once your biggest passions. You may see yourself preferring to stay home more and more until you’re cut off from society. It can become difficult to get out of bed and or focus on your work.

As depression starts to affect your daily life, you may find yourself dealing with the fact that you have become numb to all of your emotions. We often hear from women we help that they have tried to suppress their feelings of grief, but what happens instead is that they end up suppressing all of their emotions and find it is difficult to reverse the process, even if they want to.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression after an abortion, H3Helpline is here to help. All of our Phone Coaches have personally experienced abortion themselves and can offer you an understanding and listening ear, as well as connect you with local resources and community support to help you start your journey towards healing. Call us today at 866-721-7881

Feeling Anxious or Guilty Around Other Babies

It’s not uncommon to feel at peace with your decision to receive an abortion and then find yourself feeling anxious or guilty later on down the road. You may find that certain situations, such as seeing a mother or father with a newborn baby or visiting friends who have a baby of their own, can evoke a feeling of regret or anger. Finding yourself at the baby aisle of your favorite store and be overcome with emotions of loss and anxiety can happen as well.

Anniversary Anxiety

Anniversary anxiety isn’t always the easiest symptom to identify, but it’s another common symptom. When you think of an anniversary, it’s typically something worth celebrating, such as a wedding anniversary. When it comes to the anniversary of a traumatic event, however, we tend to try and suppress any negative emotions and pretend that it’s just another day.

Unfortunately, our mind doesn’t work like that; whether you realize it or not, your subconscious is still processing what happened and can evoke feelings of anxiety without you consciously realizing it.

Common Symptoms of Post-Abortion Depression

While depression presents differently in each person, some common symptoms to be aware of are:

 

  • A significant drop in energy or enthusiasm for things you normally look forward to.
  • Feeling more tired throughout the day and spending most of your free time sleeping.
  • Feeling disconnected from your emotions, friends, and family.
  • A loss of interest in your hobbies or work.
  • The inability to focus or concentrate on tasks at work or home.

Your Life Matters

When dealing with depression and grief you may begin to feel like all is lost. Depression can make you feel like nothing matters, including your own life. Please know that this furthest from the truth. Your life matters, no matter the circumstances. If your battling thoughts of suicide please reach out to friends, and or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

What Does After Abortion Healing Look Like?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive at H3Helpline. Women who have dealt with the pain of a past abortion are wanting to know what healing looks like, what it means for them, and how they can know if they’re healing.

While there isn’t a universal answer, there are a few overarching themes we’ve seen in the women we’ve talked to over the years. Learn more about after abortion symptoms and complete our post abortion syndrome questionnaire to see if you are struggling with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS).

If you or someone you know has been affected by the pain of abortion, call H3Helpline today at 866-721-7881 to start your healing journey.

Conquering Your Pain

Healing means that the pain of abortion will go away. However, like any other choice we make in life, the consequences of that choice stay with us. Healing isn’t a matter of removing the pain; it’s finding victory in conquering it. Just like an open wound that has healed, the scars remain but they don’t define you. Instead, they become a part of your life story and a means for you to connect and empower others who have also been touched by abortion.

Feeling Empowered to Share Your Story

A common sign of healing we see in the women we talk with is when they feel empowered and free to talk openly about their experience with abortion. All too often, abortion is met with a stigma that makes women feel like they have to hide their story and harbor their pain in secret.

However, that feeling is a lie that is designed to make you be held captive in your fear. When you conquer your pain, you not only are free of it, but you also realize that your abortion is part of your story. By sharing that story, you’re not only letting go of the fear that held you back, but you are adding your voice to a community of women who are living in fear and giving them the courage to join you in speaking out.

Building a Community

Another common sign we see in the healing journey is women and men forming close-knit communities with others who have been affected by the pain of abortion. In most cases, this is done by attending post-abortion support groups and/or weekend retreats where they can freely share their stories and encourage and support one another as they take their individual healing journeys. Surrounding yourself with others who have had experiences similar to your own can be very empowering and let you know that you are not alone in this.

How Long Does It Take To Be Healed?

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from the women and men that call H3Helpline is “how long does it take to be healed?” Whenever you are going through any kind of trauma or pain, it’s often the first question that comes to mind.

While most medical or physical recoveries can be estimated and given an approximate timeline to expect, healing from an abortion is different, as everyone’s experience with abortion is different and unique to them. Keep reading to learn more about post-abortion healing and how H3Helpline can help you. Call us anytime at 866-721-7881.

Physical & Emotional Effects

When talking about healing, there are two sides of it: the physical side and the emotional side. Just like any other medical procedure or surgery, there will be side effects afterwards.

The most common physical ones are:

  • Nausea
  • Painful cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Spotting or bleeding

In rare cases, more serious complications such as infection can occur, which is why it’s important to keep your follow-up appointments with your doctor after the procedure.

While the physical side effects can be predicted, the emotional side effects cannot. It’s a deeply personal and intense decision that affects everyone differently. Some may feel regret after an abortion, others may struggle with the circumstances that led to their decision, and still others may not feel anything at all for several years. Post-abortion effects are much like grief; there is no timeline or expected series of events that you can prepare for.

However, there are a few things you can be assured of:

Healing Is a Journey

Healing from an abortion isn’t something that happens naturally. Instead, it’s a journey that takes a conscious decision to start. Think of it like a wound that constantly throbs with pain if you touch it. In order to help it heal, you’ll have to apply the medicine and bandage to it. The thought of the pain can be frightening and keep you from starting the healing journey, but if you don’t, the wound won’t get better and the pain will remain.

The same is true of healing from an abortion. It’s a process that requires you to revisit that part of your past that is causing you pain, but the pain is only momentary. There is freedom and healing from that pain, but it starts with facing the pain and realizing that the pain doesn’t define you. By starting the healing journey, you can remove the hold that the pain has over you and find that you now have control over the pain and can start to move through it.

Healing Doesn’t Happen Alone

One of the most important things to know about the healing journey is this: you aren’t alone and don’t have to go through this journey alone. As humans, we are designed to thrive when we are in community with others, and healing is no exception.

The emotions surrounding post-abortion experiences are often intense and difficult to sort through. They aren’t meant to be processed alone, and that is why H3Helpline exists. Our staff is comprised of women who have personally experienced abortion and know the pain you are facing. H3lpline’s phone lines are open 24/7 and we are here to process your emotions and thoughts with you, as well as put you in contact with healing support groups and resources in your area to continue the healing process.

Healing Doesn’t Happen Overnight

As with any hurt or wound, healing doesn’t happen instantly. That’s why we call it a healing journey. And while the timeline is different for each woman, you can be sure of one thing: there is always peace at the end of the healing journey. True healing isn’t something you just have to hope for; it’s something that is attainable for everyone. And while the memories may remain, they will no longer be like that sore wound. The scar will remain, but if you allow it to remind you of what you’ve overcome, it can then become a source of peace rather than sorrow.

Why it’s Important to Reach Out Sooner Than Later

It’s perfectly natural to compartmentalize grief and trauma. The emotional pain after an abortion can be immense and, in many cases, the outcome of suppressing trauma can cause more pain and damage than the actual trauma. That doesn’t mean that addressing your trauma is easy; far from it.

By reaching out for help, you can save yourself from potentially causing more pain for yourself and, in some cases, for those around you as well. Some of the risks of suppressing trauma are:

  • Drug & alcohol abuse: When dealing with grief, it’s common to find yourself wanting to escape the real world and lose yourself in drug abuse. Whether it’s the abuse of alcohol, painkillers, or the use of harder drugs, the end result can be permanent damage to your body and/or accidental overdose.
  • Sexual escape: Another coping mechanism can take the form of using sex to suppress grief or to find a moment of relief from the emotional pain you feel. Using sex as an escape can be common, but it leads to the risk of contracting an STD or STI and can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Self-harm: In some cases, we’ve seen others turn to self-harm to find an escape. Causing physical harm to the body will lead to secrecy as you try to hide it from those who care about you and ultimately creates more anxiety. Self-harm also destigmatizes yourself to the fear of suicide and can lead to hospitalization and accidental suicide.
  • Eating disorders: Eating disorders are often thought of as something that only affects young women, but they can often arise from traumatic events or grief. One such disorder is bulimia, an eating disorder in which you consume large amounts of food and then force yourself to vomit to remove the excess amount of calories. Anorexia is another common disorder, in which you begin to starve yourself. In other cases, you may find yourself losing control of how much you eat; this is referred to as binge-eating disorder.

All of these conditions can lead to a life of greater depression and anxiety. By ignoring and suppressing your feelings, you can find yourself in a vicious cycle of destructive repetition that just gets worse over time. It’s never easy to seek help, but at the same time, you will never regret doing so. We know it’s not easy. It takes strength and courage, but it’s necessary to begin your healing journey.

How Can I Begin To Heal?

You may feel like you are all alone and that there is no one that could possibly help you during this time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You are worthy of happiness, love, healing, and forgiveness. That is the truth, however hard it may be to acknowledge it.

There isn’t a cookie-cutter cure-all way of overcoming post-abortion stress syndrome, just like there isn’t a cookie-cutter way of dealing with PTSD. Every woman’s healing journey is different, but some steps never change.

Step One

The first step is to call our after abortion helpline (866-721-7881) and open up. This is as simple as admitting that this is something you are struggling with. Every conversation with us is safe and confidential. Our phone coaches have been through the pain and healing after abortion. You can be secure in knowing that who you are sharing your pain with is safe and there is no judgment.

Step Two

The next step is to reach out and get help through a post-abortion weekend retreat, such as Rachel’s Vineyard or Deeper Still. Other choices are checking out a weekly recovery group near you, or reaching out to a nearby pregnancy center that provides post-abortion support or seeing a therapist. Even during these times of COVID-19, these groups are still meeting digitally over Zoom.

Where Can I Get Help for After Abortion Healing?

If you are suffering from the pain of a past abortion, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help, hope, and healing. The feelings of grief, guilt, or shame can be overpowering and make it hard to know where to turn for help. The good news is freedom and healing are available, and there are resources all around you! Below are some of the abortion healing options available to you and how H3Helpline can help you get started on your healing journey today.

New Heart of Texas: Rachel’s Vineyard

One avenue of post abortion support and healing that isn’t widely known is weekend retreats. Organizations such as New Heart of Texas use Rachel’s Vineyard as their curriculum, created by Theresa Karminski, Ph.D.

This retreat is dedicated to creating a safe, supportive, and confidential place where women and men can process and release their painful memories. The course is currently running in 70 different countries and at 375 locations.

These retreats provide you with both one-on-one and group activities, allowing you to discuss your feelings with others who are experiencing the same pain. Hundreds of retreats are held each year across the U.S. and the rest of the world and all are welcome to attend. Learn more about Rachel’s Vineyard.

Local Support

Another option for after abortion healing is getting connected with a local support group in your community. These groups are often composed of and led by women and men who have experienced the pain of abortion first-hand and can relate to what you’re going through.

Most of these groups grow into closely knit communities over time, but some also allow you to be anonymous if you’d like more privacy. The overall purpose of these support groups is to provide you with a safe place to process your grief and emotions with others who can provide you with comfort and a sense of community.

Professional Counseling

For those seeking out a more private avenue of after abortion healing, professional counseling could be an option. It affords women and men with the privacy and confidentiality they are looking for within a safe place to receive help and healing. The licensed medical help that these counselors provide can be extremely helpful to people who are suffering from Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) or who are dealing with intense emotional pain.

While this route of counseling can sometimes be expensive, a growing number of insurance companies and workplace insurance plans are beginning to offer coverage for therapy and counseling services. However, when looking for a counselor, it’s important to ask them if they have experience with abortion recovery before hand, to make sure they can provide you with the support you need.

H3Helpline can also help you in your search when you call one of our Phone Coaches.

What to Expect When You Call H3Helpline

If you or someone you know is suffering from the pain of an abortion, you may feel anxious at the idea of talking to someone about it. It can feel like everyone will react negatively when you confide in them. That’s not the case, however. H3Helpline exists to help men and women find healing from the pain of abortion.

If you’re unsure of whether or not we can help you, we understand. That’s why we put together this guide of what to expect when you call our helpline and how we can help you. Give H3Helpline a call today at 866-721-7881. You are never alone.

Talk to Someone Who Knows What You’re Going Through

When you hear the term Phone Coach, you may think of someone who is reading off of a script and “coached” on what to say. That’s not the case at H3Helpline. We refer to our staff as Coaches because they are here to support and encourage you every step of the way.

All of our Coaches are professionals that have gone through extensive background screens and training before taking any calls. In addition, all of our Coaches have been where you are now; they have personally felt the pain of abortion and know exactly what you’re going through. They will listen to your story, grieve with you, and encourage you.

A Safe, Confidential, Judgement-Free Zone

While our Phone Coaches have gone through what you are going through, they are also sensitive to the fact that every individual’s experience is different. They may share their experiences if it may help you, but they will never impose their values or experiences on you. They are here first and foremost to listen to you and let you express your thoughts and feelings. All of our Coaches have signed confidentiality agreements that your stories and information will never be shared outside of the helpline.

Access to Local Resources & Support

Our goal is to provide help, hope, and healing to every caller that contacts us. In addition to listening to and talking with you, our Phone Coaches research your area in order to provide you with the best resources and support that pertain to you and are local to you.

With your permission, we will send you an email with encouraging articles on healing, such as “Why It Is Important to Heal”, as well as 3 local resources with phone numbers and addresses for you to contact to continue your healing journey.

Within 2-3 days after sending the email, we will give you a confidential call to check in and see how you are doing and make sure you received the resources in our email. We don’t want to just console you on the phone; we want to set you up to take that second step of the journey towards healing.

Contact H3Helpline Today

Whether you’re a woman who is suffering from the pain of abortion, a woman that is considering abortion, or a man who is struggling with the emotional aftermath of his partner having an abortion, we can help you.

If you are unsure about whether or not you are dealing with post-abortion stress syndrome we also provide an online PASS questionnaire. Our helpline is operated 24/7 and is dedicated to serving all of our callers, offering help, hope, and healing. Call H3Helpline today at 866-721-7881 to start your journey towards healing today.