In recent years, the rate of teen pregnancies in America has increased dramatically. Approximately 750,000 teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant every year, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Within this number, 82% of the pregnancies are unplanned. The psychological effects of these pregnancies can be severe.
Birth and Post-Birth Issues
More than half of teenage pregnancies continue to birth. According to a researcher at the Transnational Family Research Institute, teenage mothers are at a high risk of experiencing depression, birth complications, toxemia, anemia and even death. Teenage girls are often not emotionally prepared for childbirth or being a mother and can experience extreme depression, anxiety, resentment and feelings of failure.
Because of the stigma that exists regarding teenage pregnancy in many societies, pregnant teens may deal with feelings of shame, guilt, anger, denial and depression. Only 1/3 of teenage mothers complete high school and receive a diploma, according to research conducted by the Robin Hood Foundation. Apart from future financial and employment problems, this can be a contributing factor toward negative self-esteem. Teenagers are often afraid to tell friends, parents or other family members about the pregnancy, which can lead to further anxiety, feelings of shame and withdrawal from society.
Effects of Pregnancy Termination
Guttmacher Institute research states that 43% of teenage pregnancies are terminated due to miscarriage or abortion. A pregnancy that results in an abortion can have long-term psychological effects, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme regret, sleep disorders, and anxiety disorders, according to AbortionFacts.com. Because of the shame or guilt teens may experience regarding pregnancy and abortion, they rarely seek out help and are left trying to deal with these issues on their own. This can cause disruption in every other area of the young woman’s life, including school, family, relationships and health. The feelings of guilt may continue throughout the years if not brought out into the open and dealt with.
Teenage mothers are at a higher risk of poverty, inability to maintain a stable job, ending up in abusive homes, having children who perform poorly in school, and having daughters with a 22% higher risk of also becoming pregnant during their teenage years, according to research conducted by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.