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How to Handle Infertility Depression

Women who struggle with infertility also often find themselves suffering from depression as a result. There are, however, ways to cope.

May 28, 2021
Charlotte Pearse

Image courtesy of Dreamstime.

Countless women across the globe have trouble with fertility, and this can lead to other problems such as those related to mental health. It’s important to be aware of how and why this happens, and what infertility depression may look like, especially right now when mental health is at an all time low.

It’s not all bad, however, because there are some methods that have been found to help relieve or at least limit the symptoms of depression brought about by infertility.

Causes

Though it is primarily related to your physical wellbeing, infertility can take a horrible toll on your mental health as well.

There can be many reasons for this, not the least of which being the stress and other strong emotions that surround infertility. It can be damaging to womens’ self-esteem and put a strain on relationships— not only between spouses or partners, but with other friends and family who she may feel socially isolated from.

Not talking to those closest to you can, in turn, increase any negative emotions you may be feeling as a result of infertility.

An image of a woman sitting cross legged on a bed, her head in her hands so you cannot see her face. She's holding a pregnancy test.
The stress and sadness that many women who are trying to cope with infertility go through can cause infertility depression if she lets them consume her. It’s hard to get rid of these feelings, however, when it seems like there may be no solution in sight for infertility, or at least not one that she’s found success with. Image courtesy of Carolinas Fertility Institute.

These types of emotions can lead to depression if gone unchecked, but there are also other reasons for infertility depression. For example, it could be brought about by infertility medication as a side effect.

Some treatments for infertility can also be very expensive, and for those who are hoping to have a child, saving up is very important. Not only that, but if treatments are continually unsuccessful then it will only add to the feelings of grief that a woman or couple struggling with infertility may be experiencing.

Effects

Infertility depression can have a big and negative impact on the lives of women who are struggling with it, much like infertility itself. Many of the symptoms are the same as depression brought about for any other reason.

Feelings of guilt, sadness, and hopelessness are all common, as well as increased frustration and anger as a result of infertility depression. If you find you’re having these feelings more frequently than joy or other happier emotions, you may be suffering from infertility depression.

An image of a woman sitting in the dark with her knees pulled close to her chest, a hand on her head and staring at the floor with a sad expression on her face.
Depression can make it feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, and if you are suffering from infertility depression it will make all the negative emotions towards your struggles with fertility that much worse. You’ll likely want to be alone and feel, for lack of a better word, sad more often than not. Image courtesy of ADDitude.

Panic attacks and increased levels of anxiety are also commonly associated with depression. Trouble focusing and remembering things due to increased stress, too. 

You may be feeling isolated, and your relationship with your partner may even be suffering. You also may find less enjoyment in your favorite hobbies and pastimes.

Likewise, your eating and sleeping habits may be suffering. This is especially important to look out for, because making sure your body is healthy is the best way to prepare it for a potential pregnancy.

It’s important to recognize it if you are going through depression, because not seeking help may cause your symptoms to worsen.

Coping

Fortunately, there are plenty of methods for dealing with infertility depression, or at least ways of limiting its effects.

First and foremost, it’s important to allow yourself to feel upset and validate both your own feelings and those of your partner, which may be different from what you’re experiencing. It’s also vital to ensure that you communicate with each other throughout it all.

And speaking of communication, make an effort to stay in touch with your other loved ones, too. You may feel isolated, but you shouldn’t cut yourself off.

You should also make sure that you’re well informed about infertility in general, as well as the options that are available to you. Search for that light at the end of the tunnel, and you just may find it!

If none of these methods are working, however, it’s important to remember that it’s always okay to seek professional help. Just as doctors will have the most information about how to combat infertility, mental health professionals will be the most equipped to help you with any problems in that area.

Medications such as antidepressants may help to alleviate your symptoms, but they also may be harmful to a fetus if you are able to conceive, and they may conflict with infertility medication you have.

So, counseling or therapy may be a good choice for you! You can even go with your spouse or partner if they’re having difficulty processing all of their emotions, too, and even if you don’t want it to become a regular occurrence, even a one-time appointment can help you to develop some effective coping strategies of your own.

An image of a woman from the shoulders down sitting on a couch, her elbows on her knees and her hands gesturing. Sitting across from her, almost entirely out of frame, her therapist is taking notes.
Therapy could be a great way to open up about what you’re going through and to find effective ways to counteract the symptoms associated with infertility depression. And, if nothing else, talking through your emotions may help to deal with them. Image courtesy of Great Lakes Psychology Group.

For example, relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are a good way to help yourself get better in the comfort of your own home.

No matter what, it’s important to always think about not just what’s best for a future baby, but what’s best for you, too. Seeking help for your infertility depression, formal or informal, isn’t shameful, and in fact should be encouraged.

It will help you along the path to being the healthiest you can be— both physically and mentally —which is best for you, your partner, and any children that come your way.

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