What is post-abortion syndrome?


Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is at present understood to be a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. Its outward manifestations such as postnatal depression, suicidal behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, marriage and family breakdown, child neglect and abuse, domestic violence, depression, anxiety attacks, compulsive disorders and other mental health problems are increasingly evident in our communities today.

Melbourne psychiatrist Dr Eric Seal, who defined PAS as "a delayed or slow developing, prolonged and sometimes chronic grief syndrome" stated: "The post-abortion syndrome is not like a more severe form of postnatal blues. It is far more serious, more delayed in onset, more lasting and more fundamentally involved in subsequent personality development."

He also said that "If the syndrome persists and is not treated adequately, personality changes will gradually emerge and affect one's family life, one's working capacity, and one's social and recreational potentials to say the least."

  • Symptoms of PAS can include
  • frequent weeping
  • depression
  • loss of concentration
  • feelings of grief and anxiety, guilt and remorse, sadness
  • isolation, alienation, victimisation
  • sense of hopelessness
  • self-destructive behaviour - suicidal
  • alcohol and / or drug abuse, eating disorders
  • abusive relationships and repeat abortions
  • extreme or chronic anger
  • sleep disorders and nightmares
  • loss of self-esteem
  • sexual dysfunction
  • relationship problems with spouse, children and / or peers
  • withdrawn / inappropriate emotional responses
  • compulsive disorders
  • increased tendency towards violence
  • dramatic personality changes or value disorientation
  • memory loss, hallucinations
  • flashbacks and anxiety attacks
  • an atonement child - the deliberate pregnancy trying to 'make up' for the aborted baby
  • anniversary reactions (around the time of the abortion date / and or the due date of the birth), which may not start until many years post event, can include major depression, anxiety, headaches, abdominal pain, eating irregularities, sleeping difficulties, abusing children, gastrointestinal symptoms or complaints relating to the reproductive system.

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