Unintended Pregnancy, Induced Abortion, and Mental Health

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Sep 14;19(11):77. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0832-4.


Purpose of review: The early medical literature on mental health outcomes following abortion is fraught with methodological flaws that can improperly influence clinical practice. Our goal is to review the current medical literature on depression and other mental health outcomes for women obtaining abortions.

Recent findings: The Turnaway Study prospectively enrolled 956 women seeking abortion in the USA and followed their mental health outcomes for 5 years. The control group was comprised of women denied abortions based on gestational age limits, thereby circumventing the major methodological flaw that had plagued earlier studies on the topic. Rates of depression are not significantly different between women obtaining abortion and those denied abortion. Rates of anxiety are initially higher in women denied abortion care. Counseling on decision-making for women with unintended pregnancies should reflect these findings.

Keywords: Abortion; Anxiety; Depression; Post-abortion syndrome; Postpartum depression; Substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology*
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted / psychology*