Trying to conceive a child can be an incredibly happy time filled with excitement and love. It can also be a very difficult experience filled with anxiety, fear, and feelings of failure. Becoming pregnant does not happen easily, or at all, for some couples. Depression can overwhelm and rule the lives of “attempting-to-become” parents that are coping with infertility.
Although most people experience times of sadness during their lives, depression as a clinical disorder is experienced when feelings of sadness last for long periods of time and greatly interfere with normal life. Depression can affect men, women, and children and can be triggered by a number of reasons. A family death, job loss, or divorce are life events that may contribute to the disorder. Medical conditions, such as cancer or infertility, can also lead to depression.
Depression can be a double whammy for couples trying to conceive. Not being able to become pregnant can lead to depression, and suffering from depression can make achieving pregnancy even more difficult. In research conducted to study the results of fertility treatments, women suffering from depression were less likely to achieve pregnancy from treatments than those women not suffering from the mental health disorder.
Ways to Cope with Depression
Don’t Isolate Yourself and Seek Support
Coping with infertility and dealing with depression is very difficult. When suffering, a person may push away friends, family, and their partner. Isolation, however, can make coping even harder. Sharing with family or friends, especially when they have children, can be difficult. Joining a support group for individuals or couples experiencing infertility may be a way to express emotions. Having others to share with, that understand the struggle of infertility, can help combat depression.
Taking care of the body can also help take care of the mind. Getting the right amount of sleep, exercising, and eating healthy can help ease depression and help to fight it. Having a strong body and mind can help a couple tackle many of the challenges they face in infertility, whether it eventually leads to pregnancy or in the pursuit of other options.
Reduce Stress and Learn Relaxation Techniques
In Every Day Health, Jennifer L. Payne, MD, Ph.D explains, “When someone is depressed, much of their outlook is negative. Relaxation techniques can help with that; it can bring people down a notch so that they’re not so anxious or negative.” Deep breathing, comforting baths, and keeping a journal to release frustrations and fears are all beneficial when fighting depression.
Reducing stress can be difficult while dealing with infertility, especially if it is the main stressor in life. Even a small reduction, however, can still provide much needed relief and help towards overcoming depression. Simplifying responsibilities, removing self-imposed pressure, and acceptance of circumstances can all ease stress.
Every Day Health Relaxation Techniques for Depression
WebMD Depression Guide
CNN Health The Chart Why stress, depression hurt fertility
Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., Infertility and Stress