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Updated: Sep 23, 2021

My close friend, who is single, had an abortion recently. She was very upset soon after the abortion. She got angry with herself easily, and at times felt depressed over the situation. How can I help?

Your friend probably has what we called ‘post abortion syndrome’. This term was coined by the psychotherapist, Dr. Vincent Rue in the 80s, to describe broad range of diverse emotional reactions attributable to abortion. Women after abortion may suffer from repressed feelings and denial of reality. They may avoid people, situations or events associated with abortion.

Some may suffer from depression, as with your friend. Loss of self-esteem, sleep disorders, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, chronic relationship problems, guilt and remorse are not that rare. The most severe reactions are self-hatred, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal tendencies. You can help her go through the grieving process and in so doing, helping her accept the situation and moving on with life.

There are various stages of grief which differ from person to person. The duration of healing from grief also varies. You could also ask her to write a journal about her experiences and emotions. She could also talk to a counsellor or join a support group. Your support is crucial during the times of grief. With time, and healthy grieving processes, acceptance of the loss would become easier. If you find that her grieving experience is difficult and she remains depressed, you should advise her to seek professional help from the psychiatrist.

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