Depression and Infertility
It is often difficult to assess whether a long time of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby brings on depression or if the depression was present beforehand, and has contributed to the inability to conceive. It is documented that women who have a prior history of depression report almost twice the rate of infertility as those women who did not have a prior history of depression. Once these women with depression were treated for the disease, six months later tests showed a sixty percent viable pregnancy rate as compared to approximately 22-25% when the depression went untreated. Those women who were involved in IVF for their infertility and experienced failure the first time around-and depression because of that failure--tended to have overall lower pregnancy rates than women who were not depressed at the failure of their first IVF treatment.
Stress and Depression
It is well-known that depression can cause stress, and that stress can significantly change your body's immunity functions. We've all heard that we are more likely to get a cold or other illness when our immune system is lowered due to emotional stress, so it makes perfect sense that this suppression of the immune system could also lead to infertility. A woman's reproductive system operates on a very delicate balance system. Since the ability to get pregnant is intricately tied to our hormones, and psychological stress can throw our hormones way out of balance, then stress and depression can have significant effects on ovulation, fertilization, and can even determine whether or not the egg can implant into the womb successfully once it has been fertilized.
Infertility Causes Depression
Many women who are undergoing infertility will naturally become depressed, and may experience feelings of hopelessness, frustration, demoralization and even guilt. The result of these depression symptoms can, in turn, lead to insomnia, appetite disturbances, the inability to concentrate and very low energy levels. Unfortunately, only about 50% of women who are in the midst of infertility issues and depression will seek medical help and treatment. Even women who were not depressed at all in the beginning of their infertility journey stand a good chance of having depression set in by the second to third year of their inability to conceive.
Natural Ways to Treat Your Infertility Depression
Whether your depression is leading to your infertility, or your infertility is causing your depression, there are several ways you can lessen the impact. Many women have had great success with yoga, meditation and visualization-all techniques which allow the body to find its natural balance. Sometimes these techniques are used together to get maximum benefits. Any technique which allows you to de-stress and relax is good for your body and your mind.
Acknowledge Your Emotions to Lessen Depression
It's important to fully acknowledge your emotions during this difficult time. Many people still feel that there is a certain stigma attached to depression, therefore are hesitant to voice their feelings. If you are angry about your infertility, then acknowledge that emotion. If you are disappointed and afraid you will never have a baby, then share those feelings with a trusted friend or in a safe support group with women who are likely undergoing the same issues and feelings as you. Support group therapy has been shown to actually increase the pregnancy rates in those who are encouraged to share their feelings and discuss the impact that infertility has had on their marriage, their friends, family, work and their life in general.
When Medication is Appropriate
Many women who are in the midst of fertility treatments may be extremely reluctant to take medications to manage their depression. There are, however certain depression medications which can be safely continued throughout a pregnancy, so it's important to discuss this with your doctor. If you are suffering a milder form of depression or anxiety, you may be able to discontinue your medication once you become pregnant.