Abortion and mental health disorders: New study finds relationship

A new study published online today finds varying degress of connection between induced abortion and later mental health problems. The article, published by the Journal of Psychiatric Research, used the National Comorbidity Study, a large representative sample of people carried out in the early 1990s. Here is the abstract:

The purpose of this study was to examine associations between abortion history and a wide range of anxiety (panic disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, Agoraphobia), mood (bipolar disorder, mania, major depression), and substance abuse disorders (alcohol and drug abuse and dependence) using a nationally representative US sample, the national comorbidity survey. Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables. Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders. Future research is needed to identify mediating mechanisms linking abortion to various disorders and to understand individual difference factors associated with vulnerability to developing a particular mental health problem after abortion.

In the discussion section, the authors believe that abortion contributes to the effect independent of other factors.

What is most notable in this study is that abortion contributed significant independent effects to numerous mental health problems above and beyond a variety of other traumatizing and stressful life experiences. The strongest effects based on the attributable risks indicated that abortion is responsible for more than 10% of the population incidence of alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, drug dependence, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and bipolar disorder in the population. Lower percentages were identified for 6 additional diagnoses.

Given the multidetermination of mental health disorders, these risks should be taken into account, especially those in double figures.

I believe another significant abortion and mental health study is due out next week as well.

The reference is: Coleman PK et al., Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating, Journal of Psychiatric Research (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.10.009

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