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Soc Sci Med. 2008 Jul;67(2):238-52. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.03.033. Epub 2008 May 28.

Abortion and anxiety: what's the relationship?

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104, United States. steinberg.julia@gmail.com

Abstract

Using data from the United States National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), we conducted secondary data analyses to examine the relationship of abortion, including multiple abortions, to anxiety after first pregnancy outcome in two studies. First, when analyzing the NSFG, we found that pre-pregnancy anxiety symptoms, rape history, age at first pregnancy outcome (abortion vs. delivery), race, marital status, income, education, subsequent abortions, and subsequent deliveries accounted for a significant association initially found between first pregnancy outcome and experiencing subsequent anxiety symptoms. We then tested the relationship of abortion to clinically diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder, using NCS data. Contrary to findings from our analyses of the NSFG, in the NCS analyses we did not find a significant relationship between first pregnancy outcome and subsequent rates of GAD, social anxiety, or PTSD. However, multiple abortions were found to be associated with much higher rates of PTSD and social anxiety; this relationship was largely explained by pre-pregnancy mental health disorders and their association with higher rates of violence. Researchers and clinicians need to learn more about the relations of violence exposure, mental health, and pregnancy outcome to avoid attributing poor mental health solely to pregnancy outcomes.

PMID:
18468755
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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