What Makes Someone Susceptible To Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome?

What is Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome?

Post-abortion stress syndrome, abbreviated as PAS or PASS, is a form of trauma which can occur in a woman after she has had an abortion. It has also been called post-traumatic abortion syndrome. Many women experience brief feelings of sadness or guilt after having an abortion. Women with PASS experience these feelings for a long period of time. These symptoms also often interrupt their everyday lives and can lead to more severe symptoms. This disorder is often compared to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder which is often noticed in military veterans. Many symptoms of these two disorders are similar.

The topic of post-abortion stress syndrome brings about great controversy among pro-life and pro-choice groups everywhere. In fact, there is still much debate regarding whether this problem actually exists, as it is not recognized by the American Psychological Association. Some fear this may only be a syndrome invented by pro-life groups in an attempt to hinder further abortions; others claim they themselves have experienced this problem. Still, other groups of people recognize PASS as a problem but believe it is very rare and mention that giving up a child for adoption would seem to be more traumatic than a typical abortion.

Who is susceptible to Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome?

Certain women may be more susceptible to PASS than other women. Women who may be more susceptible to this form of trauma can include:

  • A woman who felt pressured to have an abortion
  • A woman who experienced her abortion after her first trimester passed
  • A woman who did not consider many different choices
  • A woman who has strong religious views
  • A woman who did not have her baby because it would have a birth defect
  • A woman who did not receive counseling after her abortion
  • A woman who has an unstable lifestyle
  • A woman who was not well informed about her abortion
  • A woman who recognizes that a fetus is a human
  • A woman who rushed and did not give her decision much thought

Symptoms of Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome

Effects of PASS are often very difficult to manage and can involve a variety of risky behaviors. Intensity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Symptoms include:

  • Guilty feelings
  • Poor school and work performance
  • Nightmares
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Sudden phobias (especially of medical buildings)
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Self-injury
  • Drug and alcohol abuse requiring the help of a drug rehab facility
  • Irritability
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Relationship complications
  • Constant crying
  • Flashbacks
  • Desire to have a child
  • Anxiety
  • Overprotective of future children
  • Depression
  • Inability to function around babies or pregnant women
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Eating disorder requiring eating disorder treatment

Symptoms of PASS may not occur immediately after one has had an abortion. In many cases, numbness will overcome a woman and the feelings of an abortion will be held back for months or even years. Some women however can live their entire lives and feel perfectly fine after having an abortion. Triggers which may initiate PASS in a woman after having an abortion include seeing another pregnant woman, certain smells or sounds, marriage, or the anniversary date of the abortion.

Women who have had an abortion often feel uncomfortable or ashamed to talk about their experience and thus never seek trauma treatment. These women deserve to find recovery, instead of suffering in loneliness. Trauma treatment centers or depression treatment facilities are excellent places to receive trauma therapy and at last find hope and joy in a renewed life.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.