• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Dealing with depression- related infertility

depression

If you have been trying to get pregnant for some time, you are most likely no stranger to negative pregnancy tests. You may think you’d get used to them after a while, and even if some people do, many find each successive test harder to take. When a pregnancy test is negative after fertility treatment, the disappointment can be even greater.

Dealing with the emotions, hoping that perhaps the test was wrong and you could be pregnant, and worrying that you might never be—can be difficult. But understanding and acknowledging feelings like worry and sadness sparked by a negative pregnancy test can help you cope.

Infertility and depression frequently go together. While you may not be surprised to learn that infertility can lead to depression, you might not know that people who experience depression are more likely to have fertility problems.

You may also be surprised to learn that depression during pregnancy and after pregnancy (postpartum depression) is more common in women who have struggled with trying to conceive.

But just because depression is common among the fertility-challenged, this doesn’t mean you should ignore it or fail to treat it.

It’s completely normal to feel sadness when dealing with infertility.

You may get hit with the blues when your period comes, when a fertility test comes back with bad news, when treatments fail, or upon diagnosis of infertility.

You may also feel sadness when reminded of your fertility struggles, like when a friend throws a baby shower or your sister has her fourth child.

One difference between sadness and depression is sadness lifts after some time, while depression lingers, involves other symptoms, and interferes with your life. How serious the depression is depends on how much it affects your daily life.

Infertility is a stressful condition, having a strong impact on your sex life, relationship, sense of self-worth, and daily life. In the midst of testing and treatments, infertility may literally feel like it has become your entire life, as you go to and from doctor appointments.

All of this stress can potentially contribute to the development of depression which is more common among fertility-challenged couples who have a family history of depression. Infertility frequently causes feelings of shame, which may make it more difficult to talk to friends and family about your struggles. This isolation makes depression more likely.

Hormonal imbalances that cause infertility may also contribute to mood symptoms and vulnerability to depression. Be sure to mention to your doctors if you’re experiencing any feelings of a low mood, as it may help them diagnose your infertility and manage your overall care.

It is not explicitly clear whether depression itself can cause infertility, although there is a correlation between depression and increased rates of infertility. Some specialists theorize that this may be due to an overlap in some of the hormonal issues involved in both conditions.

Also, depression may lead to lifestyle habits that can negatively impact your fertility. For example, depression often causes overeating or lack of appetite, and being overweight or underweight can cause infertility.

Now the big question: Will pregnancy cure depression? If not getting pregnant is contributing to depression, it seems logical to assume that finally achieving pregnancy will cure the depression. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, if you have experienced infertility, you are more likely to feel depression during pregnancy and are at an increased risk for postpartum depression.

However, be aware that not achieving pregnancy, or failing to have children through adoption or other means, does not necessarily mean you’ll feel depressed the rest of your life. It is possible to find happiness in life again.

However, if depression has taken hold, it’s unlikely to resolve on its own. After failed IVF, there are couples that may still be grieving up to three years later, but there is help at hand. Counseling can help you get through the grieving process and take back your life after infertility.

You may be hesitant to get treatment for depression, and you may be thinking that antidepressants can’t be taken when trying to conceive. But the fact is that treating depression with counseling and antidepressants together has potential to increase pregnancy success.

However, for milder depression, antidepressant medications are just one of many treatment options. Depression can also be treated with talk therapy, support groups, and mind-body therapies.

The important thing is to speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing depression while going through infertility. Many fertility clinics offer counseling or support groups.

Your fertility doctor may also be able to adjust your fertility medications, giving drugs that are less likely to affect your mood, since fertility drugs can aggravate depression and cause mood swings.

If medication for depression is needed, your fertility doctor and psychiatrist should ideally work together to help you decide the safest and most effective treatments for your condition while you try to conceive.

Separating the facts from the story can help you cope. So, when the pregnancy test is negative, the fact is simply that the test is negative. It may or may not even mean the cycle failed. Some stories you may tell yourself include:

One negative test—even 20 negative tests—doesn’t mean you’ll never get pregnant. Of course, the longer it takes, the less likely you’ll achieve success without help. But one test isn’t a testament to this.

Of course, it is okay to feel sad about your pregnancy dreams not going as planned, and it is important to be realistic about your ability to conceive. But at the same time, it’s essential to keep the big picture in mind. Don’t allow one pregnancy test or even the fear that you’ll never become a biological parent hold all the keys to your life happiness. Your life is worth so much more.

 

Abayomi Ajayi

MD/CEO Nordica Fertility

[email protected],