There’s a stereotype in the media that couples experiencing fertility problems are highly stressed, but that isn’t a very accurate assessment of the conflicting emotions and roller coaster ride of infertility. The most common emotional issues that accompany infertility are depression and anxiety. If you, a friend, or family member is experiencing infertility issues, here are answers to frequently asked questions about infertility and depression.
Question: What causes infertility?
Answer: Between 85%-90% of cases of infertility can be traced to physical known causes. The resulting cases are due to unknown factors. There is a wide range of causes for infertility, ranging from sperm abnormalities to diabetes. However, emotional causes (once considered the primary reasons for infertility) are not considered a major causative factor in most cases of infertility.
Question: How common is depression among couples who are experiencing difficulties trying to conceive?
Answer: Research reports on depression and infertility are conflicting, with some studies reporting an increase in depression by 15% among women who are experiencing infertility and other reports pointing to smaller increases in depression.
Question: Are women more likely than men to develop depression due to infertility?
Answer: Research suggests that women are at higher risk of developing depression as a result of fertility issues, although the male partner may also become depressed.
Question: How stressful is infertility in the lives of those it touches?
Answer: One study reported on by Harvard Health Publications found that over 50% of women who were being treated for infertility rated it as “the most upsetting incident” in their lives. When their male partners were polled, only 15% rated it similarly, which demonstrates the difference men and women perceive infertility issues.
Question: What can trigger an increase in depression symptoms for couples that are unsuccessfully trying to conceive?
Answer: Social events can spark feelings of depression, particularly extended family events where family members ask pointed questions about when the couple is going to have a baby. Birth announcements, baby shower invitations, and simply seeing pregnant women or baby strollers can also spark a downward spiral in emotions. Most couples will eventually resolve their situation, either by having a baby through infertility treatments, adopting, or deciding to remain childless. In the mean time, they may choose social events carefully, particularly after negative pregnancy test results or at other difficult times. Painful social situations can trigger acute stress, anxiety, and depression in couples that are trying to conceive.
Question: Where should I go for help if I’m experiencing depression while trying to conceive?
Answer: If you feel like a case of the blues has turned into several months of feeling depressed, it’s time to get help. You can talk to your infertility doctor, who can help you with some treatments and make sure infertility medicines aren’t contributing to the problem, or you can seek out a qualified mental health practitioner.
At Santa Monica Fertility, you can get state-of-the-art infertility services in a holistic environment. To schedule your first appointment and explore your options in having a baby, contact us today.