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Depression After an Abortion

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 18 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Depression Abortion Doctor Alone Risk

Making the decision to have an abortion can be difficult for some women while others find it a very clear and obvious choice for their specific situation. Yet, it is difficult to predict just how a woman will react to an abortion.

Even if she initially felt secure in her choice, she can still experience feelings of depression after an abortion. A smaller number of women will ultimately experience clinical depression, although within the medical community, abortion is not generally considered a cause of depression. However, this is a debated aspect of both abortion and depression.

Understanding Feelings After an Abortion

While some women report that they feel relieved after an abortion, others will struggle with sadness, guilt, anger, shame and regret. There are some circumstances that could predispose a woman to feelings of distress and depression after an abortion, although there is no clear way to predict how each woman will experience and handle her abortion.

With a woman's hormones rapidly changing back to her pre-pregnancy state, she may find that this chemical change makes her more prone to sadness. In this instance, the feelings of depression will tend to eventually pass, particularly as her hormones begin to stabilise after the abortion.

Some women who are very sensitive to the media may experience feelings of depression because they are told that they are 'evil' or 'wrong' for having the abortion. Unfortunately, this is a very real effect that can occur due to anti-abortion activists. Women who were pressured to have the abortion are also more likely to experience feelings of depression after the abortion. They will feel particularly bad because they did not want the abortion at all and they may experience heightened feelings of sadness.

Your Support Network

Women who have a weak support network or perhaps none at all are more likely to experience feelings of depression after an abortion. They may feel alone, isolated and afraid as they experience feelings they are unfamiliar with after the abortion. Women who have busy, stressful lives may also find that they experience great sadness and distress after the abortion. It is important for a woman to allow herself time to heal, physically and emotionally, which may mean taking some time off from school or work.

What is Normal?

While it is normal to feel emotional and experience some of the symptoms of depression – such as sadness – after an abortion, most women will recover. However, a small number of women will find that these feelings are sustained or they become more pronounced. These women may go on to develop clinical depression.

If you find that your feelings are so overwhelming that you can't seem to cope, particularly when a great deal of time has passed since your abortion, you should make an appointment to see a medical professional. You may find that counselling is helpful or your doctor may also want to put you on a short course of antidepressant therapy.

If you have previously suffered from depression, you will be at a higher risk of suffering from depression after an abortion. It will be important to take additional measures to obtain counselling and support from friends or family.

Nurturing Yourself After an Abortion

For most women, giving yourself permission to experience and express sadness and other feelings after your abortion can help you to heal. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Instead, respect and accept that you made the best decision you could under the circumstances. It is important for you to have faith that you are a good person who made a very difficult decision.

Some women also find that writing their feelings in a journal can be helpful, particularly if they don't feel comfortable speaking to someone about the experience. Sometimes, just reading about the experiences of other women who have been through an abortion can validate a woman's own feelings of depression and anxiety. It can also help you to feel less alone when you know that other women have experienced similar feelings after an abortion.

Moving Forward

Ultimately, you need to take time out to heal but try to stay aware of your feelings and see a doctor if they persist and prevent you from coping with life. With some self-care and support, most women can move past their abortion and look forward to a positive future.

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It is a year tomorrow since I went for my surgical termination, I was 9 weeks pregnant, the worst part about it all for me was being put to sleep pregnant and waking up and my baby had gone. I woke up in a room on my own, I wasn't allowed my mum or partner to come in they said I had to wait. I was left by myself for around half an hour with no one which made me think, have I done the right thing? I regret my choice every day from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. Sometimes I get angry with myself because I didn't give that baby a chance at life. These feeling then go on to regret and really deep sadness to the point I want to hurt myself to take the pain away, sometimes I just feel like I can't cope and i get suicidle thought rushing through my head because I just feel that I can't live with the pain. There is deffinetly a part of my heart missing now after what I have done. please help me!!x
MD - 18-Nov-17 @ 8:07 AM
ED - Your Question:
I've just turned 25 and I've had 2 abortions. I also have a son who is 3. And is the most amazing person in my life. Without him I wouldn't see another day of light.Buy twice I have given up a child. Because of who I was with because he never felt it was right, because we already had a son and because he never believed one of them was his. The most ridiculous excuses I'd ever heard. But because I loved him. I did it. I lost our other 2 children because I loved the father who made them.Sounds ridiculous right?He pressured.me, made me feel like it was the only option. Then when the first was done. I cried until there was no other tear left to cry. My baby had hands, eyes, a body. Although I was the mother to a now 11 mother old. I felt like no mother at all. I felt the most disgusting human being on the earth. I would never forgive myself. I never will. But I have to deal with it. Then I fell pregnant for the 3rd time. This time he never believed it was his? Some excuse? I don't know? But because I loved him, and had been for the past 6 years, it was the same answer as before. "we can't keep it"For about a month I stood up for myself. I told him no, I'm not doing that again. A month. A month that lasted. I was about 16 weeks when I gave birth to my boy. It was a boy. I never named him. Just like the first.I thought it might hurt me even more. But Judy's because they don't have names, doesn't mean I don't love them. I think about them every single day of my ongoing life. I think about the life I took from them. Because I didn't feel that both parents wanted them. Every single second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year I remember them. I think about them. Both. And how much my son would of loved 2 other siblings. He's now 3. And the only person on this earth who keeps me going. Please.if there's other mums, girls, anybody. Talk to me. Leave a message. X

Our Response:
Thank you for sharing this. If anybody does want to talk to ED we can pass on contact emails privately.
OvercomeDepression - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:31 PM
I've just turned 25 and I've had 2 abortions. I also have a son who is 3. And is the most amazing person in my life. Without him I wouldn't see another day of light. Buy twice I have given up a child. Because of who I was withbecause he never felt it was right, because we already had a son and because he never believed one of them was his. The most ridiculous excuses I'd ever heard... But because I loved him... I did it. I lost our other 2 children because I loved the father who made them. Sounds ridiculous right? He pressured...me, made me feel like it was the only option. Then when the first was done.... I cried until there was no other tear left to cry. My baby had hands, eyes, a body. Although I was the mother to a now 11 mother old.. I felt like no mother at all. I felt the most disgusting human being on the earth. I would never forgive myself... I never will. But I have to deal with it. Then I fell pregnant for the 3rd time. This time he never believed it was his? Some excuse? I don't know? But because I loved him, and had been for the past 6 years, it was the same answer as before... "we can't keep it" For about a month I stood up for myself... I told him no, I'm not doing that again. A month. A month that lasted. I was about 16 weeks when I gave birth to my boy. It was a boy. I never named him. Just like the first. I thought it might hurt me even more. But Judy's because they don't have names, doesn't mean I don't love them. I think about them every single day of my ongoing life. I think about the life I took from them. Because I didn't feel that both parents wanted them. Every single second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year I remember them. I think about them. Both. And how much my son would of loved 2 other siblings. He's now 3. And the only person on this earth who keeps me going. Please....if there's other mums, girls, anybody... Talk to me... Leave a message. X
ED - 12-Nov-17 @ 10:19 PM
I had medical abortion a Week ago today. Feeling very emotional ?? and anxious ?? got to go back to Hospital in 3 days for ultrasound make sure everything came away. So scary right now
Laura - 17-Oct-17 @ 9:24 PM
Hi, I had an abortion at 13 weeks and it was fifteen weeks ago I thought it was my only decision and it's the biggest regret of my life, I find each day hard and not a day goes by when I don't think about it, I didn't speak to anyone only my boyfriend who didn't really say much I have not told family or friends and I feel so alone, I wish I had read forums like his before I did it and maybe I wouldn't have made the worst decision in my life, I am so glad I am not alone and these forums really help me a lot.
Rosey - 12-Oct-17 @ 11:00 PM
J - Your Question:
I didn't have an abortion yet but I'm going soon. I just found out that I'm pregnant with my boyfriend of 7 months he really wants this but our lives are no where together I struggle to pay my bills & eat I don't want to bring an innocent child & have them struggle I'm so torn on what to do. I'm so emotional because I love my boyfriend & id love to have his baby but I don't want to struggle

Our Response:
Try and talk to people who've been on both sides. If you can find people who've had a baby while struggling financially, to talk to, you can make notes about the pros and cons (both practical and emotional). Find someone who's aborted a baby for the same reasons (the abortion clinic may be able to help put someone in touch with you here) and see how they managed etc.
OvercomeDepression - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:42 AM
I didn't have an abortion yet but I'm going soon. I just found out that I'm pregnant with my boyfriend of 7 months he really wants this but our lives are no where together I struggle to pay my bills & eat I don't want to bring an innocent child & have them struggle I'm so torn on what to do. I'm so emotional because I love my boyfriend & id love to have his baby but I don't want to struggle
J - 22-Sep-17 @ 12:18 AM
I had a medical abortion in March 2017 at 20 weeks pregnancy due to genetic issues in the foetus. My first child (10 yrs old now) has the same problems and I felt unable to cope with the demands of the illness for a second time. The baby was unplanned and my partner was of the opinion that one child is quite enough. However i was unsure enough to prolong it till 20 weeks and then was forced to make a decision which I have since regretted every single day. The feeling of loss and loneliness has only grown with time especially since I found out in June that my partner had started chatting with another woman for around 6 months and they had gotten very close in their chats. This was not easy for me to accept but I decided to stay with him for sake of our child. He has promised never to repeat this mistake however I am unable to move ahead and feel that I might be slipping into depression. I miss the baby soo much and feel that I should have fought more to keep it as I was the only voice it had in this world.
Not Fine - 15-Sep-17 @ 5:21 PM
:-( - Your Question:
I had a surgical abortion 10 weeks ago I would of been 16 weeks pregnant this week. I am heartbroken at what we did and regret it every day! My partner already has 2 young children who were not planned as a couple. We both come from broken families and agreed that we wouldn't want to bring another child up cimular to oyr upbringings and the 2 younger children plus our house is the size of a shoe box and only just manages the 4 of us every other weekend! I really regret our decision to abort the pregnancy and I think about what if every day. I think that's why I'm counting the weeks I should be 16 weeks pregnant and excited not 10 weeks after abortion and feeling like why am I still here! The abortion was awful never felt so alone my partner couldn't be with me at any step of the way during the procedure. Not like an operation at hospital were there is someone waiting for you when you get back to the ward. I can not describe how low the clinic makes you feel about something that happens all the time! As they do put the statistics on the leaflets.Will I ever stop hating myself for doing this?? Because I can not move on and think about what happend every day. Would things be different if I was 16 weeks pregnant like I should be?

Our Response:
It's perfectly natural to feel the way you do, please take time to talk to someone about your experience. Look into the resources in the article and in responses to comments below to help you move forward.
OvercomeDepression - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:56 AM
I had a surgical abortion 10 weeks ago I would of been 16 weeks pregnant this week. I am heartbroken at what we did and regret it every day! My partner already has 2 young children who were not planned as a couple. We both come from broken families and agreed that we wouldn't want to bring another child up cimular to oyr upbringings and the 2 younger children plus our house is the size of a shoe box and only just manages the 4 of us every other weekend! I really regret our decision to abort the pregnancy and I think about what if every day. I think that's why I'm counting the weeks I should be 16 weeks pregnant and excited not 10 weeks after abortion and feeling like why am I still here! The abortion was awful never felt so alone my partner couldn't be with me at any step of the way during the procedure. Not like an operation at hospital were there is someone waiting for you when you get back to the ward. I can not describe how low the clinic makes you feel about something that happens all the time! As they do put the statistics on the leaflets. Will I ever stop hating myself for doing this?? Because I can not move on and think about what happend every day. Would things be different if I was 16 weeks pregnant like I should be?
:-( - 13-Sep-17 @ 8:35 PM
Jess - Your Question:
I had an abortion 6 years ago and it didnt bother me at first im now 28 years old with no children and I feel I ruined my only chance at having a child everyday I think about it and im so depressed

Our Response:
Do see a GP who will advise you on your ability to conceive and explain what your options are.
OvercomeDepression - 4-Sep-17 @ 12:17 PM
I had an abortion 6 years ago and it didnt bother me at first im now 28 years old with no children and i feel i ruined my only chance at having a child everyday i think about it and im so depressed
Jess - 29-Aug-17 @ 5:19 AM
Manga - Your Question:
A year on and I dont think ill ever move on, I had an abortion at 12 weeks and feels like the worse decision of my life. I suffer from a rare condition and it could of meant the baby would suffer along with other things going on I felt pushed in to an abortion. Its like I forgotten who I am, I do see a counciler but I still dont think its working. I just want to go back a year and change what I did. What hurts most is no one even talks about it :(

Our Response:
Please do try and talk to people about it, they may simply be avoiding it to try and spare your feelings. If you want to talk, people will listen. We hope your counsellor has given you details of other support organisations but if not, please see the responses to others below. Take Care
OvercomeDepression - 15-Aug-17 @ 11:20 AM
I had an abortion 3 and a half weeks ago. I was 17 weeks pregnant and I only knew for three days. I'm only 20 years old and I know I made the right choice as I am nowhere near read to have or support a child. I have a very loving boyfriend who was with me every step of the way. Now, however, I feel this emptiness. I've always had the goal of being a mom one day. I think I'll be great at it and children bring me such joy to be around. I'm having a really hard time coping with this feeling of loss and like I made the wrong choice. Logistically I know that I made the right choice for myself, but I've cried at least once a day since because of all of this.
Feeling lost - 15-Aug-17 @ 4:42 AM
I had an abortion one week ago at 6 weeks pregnant, it was a unexpected and my partner was not pleased and we had quickly dicussed that we would not keep it, we fought we didnttalk and we didnt tell anyone, but i made the decision to go ahead and terminate my pregnancy because i thought it was our decision but the of after my ultrasound i felt overcome with emotion and i was paralyzed with sadness i felt like i didnt have a voice to tell anyone i changed my mind, right after the procedure i cried and cried and till today i cant stop crying and i am so deeply sad, i have resentment towards my partner because i wish we couldve spoken clearly to each other but we wer so mad at each other that we didnt communicate, and i wish i could take everything back and whatever i was afraid of was nothing and i cant even see myself being as happy as i used to be i feel so so sad evryday and when i see pregnant friends or babies i have so much thoughts of what if?? Although now my partner is supportive because he sees my pain he doesnt understand and says you cant look back and you have to get over it, but i cant i feel so much guilt and I only wish to go back in time.
Heartbroken - 15-Aug-17 @ 3:53 AM
A year on and i dont think ill ever move on, i had an abortion at 12 weeks and feels like the worse decision of my life. I suffer from a rare condition and it could of meant the baby would suffer along with other things going on i felt pushed in to an abortion. Its like i forgotten who i am, i do see a counciler but i still dont think its working. I just want to go back a year and change what i did. What hurts most is no one even talks about it :(
Manga - 12-Aug-17 @ 7:22 PM
I had a medical abortion last week at 6 weeks pregnant, I wanted to keep the baby but at the same time as finding out I was pregnant I had an abnormal smear result, after a biopsy the results showed I had CIN3 and HPV + so I was advised to have the necessary treatment as I was high risk of developing cervical cancer. My gp and gyneacologist refused to do the treatment if I was pregnant. I made the decision to have an abortion so i could get the treatment immediately. I feel so selfish and guilty. I could have waited until after the pregnancy for the treatment but would have risked further cancerous changes in my cervix. My partner and I are sad and I've cried everyday. The lady doing the scan accidentally left the screen on and I saw my baby. It was not a bunch of cells like I assumed but a baby with definition of a body and a head. I am riddled with guilt and don't know if I made the right choice.i don't feel I weighed up my options and made a rash decision based on trying to save myself.
Bee - 9-Aug-17 @ 9:33 PM
Anon- Your Question:
I had an abortion a year ago and it still rips me apart.It was a medical one at 7 weeks and the minute I took the pills I regretted it. We just weren't ready and did not have a strong support network round us and my family were struggling with other things also. Me and my boyfriend were together 3 years and still are but I have severe depression and anxiety and I cannot seem to move on. I hate my self every single day and now feel I do not deserve children and do not think I'm ever going to be able to get over it. I resent my boyfriend as just wish he had said once let's keep it we will cope. A choice I cannot take back and will never forgive myself for. I can never bring myself to tell anyone about it either only me and my bf knows.

Our Response:
Please try and talk to someone else about this. The support organisations listed in the comments below and in the article can really help.
OvercomeDepression - 4-Aug-17 @ 11:37 AM
I had an abortion a year ago and it still rips me apart. It was a medical one at 7 weeks and the minute I took the pills I regretted it. We just weren't ready and did not have a strong support network round us and my family were struggling with other things also. Me and my boyfriend were together 3 years and still are but I have severe depression and anxiety and I cannot seem to move on. I hate my self every single day and now feel I do not deserve children and do not think I'm ever going to be able to get over it. I resent my boyfriend as just wish he had said once let's keep it we will cope. A choice I cannot take back and will never forgive myself for. I can never bring myself to tell anyone about it either only me and my bf knows.
Anon - 1-Aug-17 @ 10:13 PM
I had abortion over a week ago. I didn't want to have it but I have no job and was struggling to find one in last 6 months. My partner openly said that he is not ready mentally and financially for a baby and I felt like I had no choice. Since the abortion I hate myself, regret it and all I am thinking is to have my baby back. I am scarred that my partner will leave me becuse he is not able to cope with my feelings. I don't know what to do either with myself or my life.
Jo - 31-Jul-17 @ 11:22 AM
Sasha - Your Question:
Im 8 and half weeks pregnant. I am 38 and have a 9 and 11 year old. This wasnt planed. My husband wants me to get an abortion but I dont think I can do it. I no I would hate him. He is bulling me and is really angry. He said he wouldn't leave me if I had the baby. But he reckons he just couldnt handle it.

Our Response:
What a sad situation for you. Please try and speak to other people and any support organisations you can before making a decision. If you read the comments below you will see how any decision can affect you in the long term.
OvercomeDepression - 28-Jul-17 @ 2:49 PM
Im 8 and half weeks pregnant. I am 38 and have a 9 and 11 year old. This wasnt planed. My husband wants me to get an abortion but I dont think I can do it. I no I would hate him. He is bulling me and is really angry. He said he wouldn't leave me if i had the baby. But he reckons he just couldnt handle it..
Sasha - 26-Jul-17 @ 10:23 PM
I had a medical abortion today... I had the intention of keeping my pregnancy but something within me kept tugging on that thought as if it was the wrong decision. The father wanted to keep it more than I ever did. I am 18 and he is 22. Only 2 days of knowing about my pregnancy i decided to abort it. We were waiting for 30 minutes before they called my name one last time before leaving that place. In those 30 minutes my boyfriend kept telling me how we are capable of moving in together and raising this child on our own. It sounded like a dream at first but reality struck and I did not have the courage to change my whole path for a baby. When i sat down with the doctor and he gave me the pill I had an instinct feeling of regret. I felt like my life shifted to the baby and i had flashbacks of me being a child and being so proud of my mom for working and taking care of me when she was so young. I then started bawling and tomd my boyfriend i do not want to end this baby's life so i dipped my fingers down my throat and made myself throwup the pill. Then i thought no it's already been done I need to go through wirh it. It hasn't been a day and I'm still crying. I know I have to go through this abortion. I now don't think of being successful for me but for the sake of the termination of the baby. Not only do i want to be successful for myself but also to have a reason behind the abortion. Being a nobody and aborting the baby wouldve been useless. It was my baby made out of love and i will forever love it from above. If i had the chance to reverse my abortion i would. At first i did not want my mom disapponted or sad- screaming at me. But all that is worth it when the rest of your life you will have a baby to always love you. Unlike now, no one will scream at me since no one knows. But i will cry in silence for probably the rest of my life. Lesson learned and i will never in my life abort again.
Anon - 2-Jul-17 @ 2:27 AM
I had also an abortion ten years ago i got depressed until now because my ex wanted to abort our baby and i am so scared with my parents ..when i broke up with my ex he blackmail me then he also gossiping me to my relatives..friends.. But now i am coping it because i always praying to God
less - 26-Jun-17 @ 11:58 PM
I had a medical abortion 3 weeks ago and the grief, upset, heartbreak is consuming me! I went through with it due to no support, none! Not from my family or my husband! I have 3 children already and yes another would have made things super difficult but that was my baby! Everybody had an opinion on why I shouldn't have the baby but nobody stopped to ask me what I wanted or how I felt! I wanted my child, I wanted to see their scan! I spoke to them! I even had a bleed where I prayed everything to be ok! Then I disgust myself by doing this! I held my tiny perfectly formed baby in my hand. I'm paying for it now, I've been prescribed anti depressants and anxiety tablets! My whole life has been destroyed! I killed a massive part of myself the day I killed my baby! Please think seriously before making this decision! As it's difficult to live with!
Devistated - 4-Jun-17 @ 9:20 PM
I had a abortion 5 years ago when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I still remember taking the tablet and as soon as I had swallowed it I knew I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. Even now I still cry to myself and feel so guilty because I know that baby would have been my world
KH - 29-May-17 @ 4:49 PM
I am 19 and had a late medical abortion on the 22nd of May, 15 weeks pregnant. I've been with my boyfriend for nearly 4 years but instead of it being a happy time we knew we couldn't make it work. He had just started uni 262 miles away when I found out I was pregnant. I seriously regret the discision we made, which was mostly influenced by his sister. I felt I couldn't talk to my parents about it as we already have a big family that struggles to get by sometimes. As I still lived at home I knew it would put even more stress on them which wouldn't of been fair. I have aspirations to go to uni in the near future so realistically I believed an abortion was my only option. I just remember sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my name to be called. I just wanted to run out. My partner was sat with me giving me support saying that it'll all be ok etc. When I went upstairs for the treatment he wasn't allowed to come which made it even harder. It was a long 8 hour treatment that ended with the abortion of my son. I don't think I can ever forgive myself for what I've done. I've lost what would of been my first born, and I feel like if I had just told my parents or talked to someone with a positive attitude towards it, there's no way I would of gone through with it. I just feel like I never deserve a second chance at motherhood, all I've ever wanted is to be a mum. I could of given them so much love. I blame society and its negative views on young parents. If I had the support from friends and family, I feel like I could of made it work. I should of saved him.
Anonymous - 28-May-17 @ 4:01 PM
I had an abortion about two months ago. It kills me even more knowing that Mother's Day is soon to be here. I would l have been 24 weeks this month and it kills me. I loved the father but during our relationship he cheated and got someone else pregnant at the time I was willing to work through everything and so was he but the constant reminder of an innocent child being brought into a world of inconsistency really affected me. I never really wanted the abortion but was pressured by the father because we weren't ready. But I regret it everyday and everytime I see a baby or mom.
buddhabae - 14-May-17 @ 12:27 AM
I fell pregnant at 16 (im now 17) i found out about 2 weeks before christmas, unsure and scared i told my mum after only knowing for a day and the desision to have a termination was forced upon me. I wasnt sure what i was going to do but what i really didnt want to do was what i ended up doing. I lost a great deal of people last year who meant so much to me i saw the baby as a healing process and i hate myself more and more each day for being so stupid and let my mother strip away all my control. Now 4 months on i'm broken and quite frankly i'm trumatised everything reminds me of either the pregnancy, or the termination i'm stuck in a constant cycle it just gets worse and worse
Izzy - 12-Apr-17 @ 4:45 PM
I m about to dissolve my marriage and I can't keep the baby so being 5 weeks pregnant I opted for medical abortion. Tough decision as I have always wanted my own child. My soon to be ex husband wanted to trap me in this relationship with the baby. I wish he was like the way he posed to be when we were getting married and I wish I could keep my baby.
Afad - 10-Apr-17 @ 10:18 PM
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