Undergoing fertility treatments can place a strain on your physical and emotional health, and it's common for couples to experience depression after unsuccessful procedures. If you or your partner are displaying signs of depression, it's important that you seek out the support of your doctor or therapist.
How Common Is Depression After Unsuccessful Fertility Treatments?
According to the medical journal Nature Medicine, more than one percent of the babies born in the United States each year were conceived with the help of scientific procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF). These babies are the success stories, but for many couples, the road to conception is fraught with disappointment and obstacles. Many couples experience multiple unsuccessful attempts at conception, and some are forced to give up their dream altogether.
It's natural that these unsuccessful treatments would take an emotional toll on both men and women. According to No Baby on Board, a respected infertility support site, studies have shown that almost 50% of women and 15% of men consider their fertility struggle to be one of the most difficult events they have ever faced. Additionally, up to 13% of women considered or imagined committing suicide after failed treatments.
Signs of Depression
If you are concerned about how you or your partner are handling the emotional rollercoaster of infertility, it's important to watch for signs of depression. The Mayo Clinic stresses that depression is a serious illness and reports that many patients get better with professional treatment.
If you notice any of the following symptoms of depression, contact your healthcare provider right away:
- Feeling of hopelessness or guilt
- Increased irritability
- Changes in sleep habits, sleeping more or less than normal
- Changes in apatite, eating more or less or gaining or losing weight
- Feelings of fatigue
- Feelings of anxiety
- Thinking of or fantasizing about suicide
- Difficulty making decisions
- Physical pain, especially headaches, stomach aches, and back or neck pain
- Crying uncontrollably
- Emotional detachment or distance
If You Need Help Right Away
If you are considering harming yourself, call someone immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. You can also call a trusted friend, doctor, family member, or spiritual leader. Additionally, your partner may be able to offer support in a way that no one else can.
Tips for Coping with Infertility-Related Depression
If you are experiencing depression due to fertility treatments that have not resulted in a pregnancy, it's important to keep a few coping tips in mind:
- Acknowledge your feelings of loss and disappointment. Although many women feel that they must maintain a positive attitude with friends and family, it's important to recognize and accept your feelings.
- If you're concerned about your mental health, talk to a professional. Depression can be a serious mental health challenge, and you may need help to feel better.
- Engage in activities that you find rewarding. When you're feeling depressed, it can be hard to find anything that sounds like fun. However, if you take a class or pick up a new hobby or activity, you may find that you feel a bit better.
- Consider joining an infertility support group. Organizations such as Resolve are dedicated to offering fertility-challenged couples the mental and social support they need at this difficult time.
- Keep a journal of your emotions and experiences. Simply writing down your feelings may make it easier for you to process them.
There Is Hope
With the increase in the number of couples dealing with infertility, more people are struggling with depression after unsuccessful fertility treatments. If you're noticing signs of depression in yourself or your partner, it's very important that you get help as soon as possible. Although infertility can be devastating, many people find that therapy or medication helps them cope during this difficult time.