Abortions during adolescence more likely to cause depression 少女期「夾過娃娃」 易罹憂鬱症

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 - Page 11

To help avoid the usual spike in abortions that occurs during summer, the Taipei Association for Women’s Health held a media event on July 15 — “Double the Protection, Don’t Lose Your Youth” — urging males to use condoms correctly and females to take birth control pills to ensure “double protection.” Psychiatrists say that girls who have abortions during adolescence are twice as likely as other women to develop depression or anxiety disorder.

Hsiao Mei-chun, an attending physician in Chang Gung Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry, says that many adolescent girls after having an abortion will experience post-abortion syndrome, which includes profound grief, anger, trouble sleeping and feelings of guilt, and, in some cases, hallucinations of babies crying. The human brain is not fully developed until between the ages of 18 and 22, and Hsiao says that the stress a girl under the age of 18 must endure when having an abortion causes psychological and neurological damage that can resurface in the future when tensions escalate with their boyfriend, in their marriage or in interpersonal relationships, and their chances of developing depression or anxiety disorder are higher than other women.

Chen Sih-ming, an attending physician in the Department of Gynecology at Taiwan Adventist Hospital, says that she once had a 14-year-old girl come into her clinic who had no idea what birth control was, and as a consequence had become “a child having a child.” Many people mistakenly assume that it is perfectly safe as long as the male uses a condom, but Chen says that the risk of getting pregnant can still be as high as 15 percent. A woman must also take birth control pills to ensure a 99 percent chance of avoiding pregnancy, as well as preventing sexually transmitted diseases, Chen says.

Hsiao says that adolescent girls typically start having sex with their boyfriends because they say, “If you love me, you will have sex with me,” but young girls should reply, “If you really love me, you will wait,” and refuse to have unprotected sex. Parents, for their part, should educate their children properly about sex at a young age, and if their child becomes pregnant they should be with them and deal with the problem together instead of blaming them, Hsiao says.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)