Depressed about not being pregnant
"Psychological stress and depression impact one's self-esteem, physical health, and also affect one's social relationships. According to WHO, there has been an increase in stress and depression cases by 18% in last 10 years. One of the reasons why men and women fall prey to mental stress is the inability to conceive a child. When it comes to stress and infertility, people are often caught in a vicious cycle. The stress adds on to the problem by causing hormonal changes to the body, making it even more difficult to conceive. Moreover, it can affect their marital relation also. The 'childless' tag brings social seclusion and frustration to the couple and the family.
The stress levels among infertile couples are extremely high today. About 20-25% of couples go through tremendous mental pressure while undergoing infertility treatment. They get anxious about the treatment, and are often left with uncertainties about the chances of success and in fear of their friends and families getting to know. This World Mental Health Day, we would like to send out a message to all couples that a happy mind and a relaxed body are the key factors for a successful pregnancy, be it natural or through IVF. The success rate for the treatment of any physical ailment is significantly better when one isn't too stressed, and infertility treatment is no different. Hence, we advise all couples seeking treatment to be aware of their limitations, consult their doctors regularly, seek counselling and therapy when necessary, maintain a healthy lifestyle and physical routine, and support each other emotionally."
Infertility and mental health
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or after trying for 6 months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. Infertility affects 10 to 15 percent of couples.
Women who want a child but have not yet conceived often experience the following:
- Marital problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Social isolation
- Low self-esteem
Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is clear that infertility can affect mental health. It's possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation. This could make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
- Tension, irritability
- Feeling of sadness or hopelessness
- Loss of enjoyment /pleasure
- Withdrawal from activities that you once enjoyed
- Inability to make decisions
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Self criticism
Difference between being sad and depressed:
If an individual exhibits more than two or three signs then there are chances that he/she may be dealing with depression, if they exhibit one or two signs it indicates that they are sad that which is human.
Being depressed about not being able to conceive is a normal part of infertility treatment and must be dealt with effectively in order to overcome.
Couples with infertility have many treatments available to help them conceive. Most of these treatments cost a lot of money and may not be covered by health insurance. While many couples who seek infertility treatment are already stressed, the process and cost of assisted reproduction itself can also cause anxiety, depression, and stress. If you are trying fertility treatments and they are not working, you may be at risk for further depression and self-esteem problems. Try to keep a positive attitude, and be sure to talk to your doctor about getting help if you feel you need it. A number of research studies show that women who are distressed have lower pregnancy rates among women trying infertility treatments.
Talk therapy, either one-on-one or in a group, can lower stress and mood symptoms. Women who had talk therapy during their infertility treatments were more likely to get pregnant than those who did not.
Researchers are still learning whether drugs like antidepressants can help infertile women. Many women don't want to take medications during infertility treatments because they are afraid it may affect the outcome of a pregnancy. However, there is no data that shows that commonly used antidepressants affect a woman's chances of becoming pregnant.
Inputs by - Dr. Manish Banker, Chairman and Medical Director, Nova IVI Fertility