Infertility can be an extremely isolating experience. Wanting something that is just out of reach is often excruciating - and when that something seems to come easily for so many others, it can feel like salt in a fresh wound. For couples dealing with infertility, the anguish is very real and packs a strong emotional punch.
Infertility and depression statistics indicate that women with fertility problems are, as a group, as depressed and anxious as women with heart disease, HIV or cancer. Men, too, feel the emotional effects – studies show they are at risk for anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem.
But because infertility is generally not viewed as a disease, it can be difficult for others to understand these implications. Those who are facing infertility are left feeling isolated, lonely and misunderstood – all common factors in depression.
According to Harvard Health, infertility drugs and hormones can potentially cause a variety of psychological side effects. It states that the synthetic estrogen, clomiphene citrate (found in medications like Clomid and Serophene), which is often prescribed because it improves ovulation, may cause anxiety, sleep interruptions, mood swings and irritability.
It’s not surprising that the stress of medication, injections, frequent appointments, and general requirements of an IVF cycle could cause symptoms of depression. Especially when the ultimate cycle outcome is not yet known, it’s understandable that the process could lead to a great deal of anxiety. Go through IVF multiple times, and the stress increases. According to a study of 200 couples, half of the women and 15% of the men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives.
If you suspect you’re facing this, an infertility depression quiz can help identify problematic behavioral, emotional, cognitive and physical symptoms. Many fertility clinics have designated mental health professionals on staff to help patients cope and to offer suggestions for further support and treatment. An article in Psychology Today suggests that if your clinic does not have someone on staff, it is still possible they can suggest names of people whom their patients have used. It’s suggested that the therapist have solid experience with cognitive behavioral therapy, which includes mental skills that address negative thought patterns and challenge feelings of hopelessness.
Infertility can be one of the most emotionally challenging experiences a couple or individual will face. The clear connection to depression is a reminder that support – both personal and professional - is so necessary. If you are exploring different ways to build your family, ConceiveAbilities is here to support you every step of the way.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.