Infertility and Depression
Infertility and Depression are closely interlinked. While depression is a common side effect of infertility, it can also be a cause of infertility.
This strange relation between Infertility and Depression makes it even more difficult to tackle.
We already know the link between stress and infertility and how stress impacts overall health and moreover fertility. Long periods of experiencing stress and sadness can lead to depression.
When a couple starts planning on having a baby, they are full of hopes and plans.
The excitement of planning, trying to conceive an outcome of their love into a baby who they will be able to love, cuddle and pamper.
The excitement has no bounds and increases over the months.
As the months pass by and a couple is not able to conceive, the excitement turns to worry.
When a couple is diagnosed with infertility, all the hopes and dreams come crashing down with a thud! They experience a momentary phase of grief when this happens.
This grief can lead to depression if not channelized properly.
Infertility and Depression- Is it common?
According to a study, 10- 15% of married couples face infertility in India.
According to the World Population Prospects 2017 report, the fertility rates of Indians has gone down by 50% since 1975-80.
Infertility is greater amongst the urban population, affecting about 1 in 6 couples.
However, although the cases of infertility are increasing, the mindset towards the problem remains the same.
One that is full of social stigmas, a closed and hush-hush manner of dealing with the situation and attaching blame to the person suffering from infertility.
It is no surprise then that Infertility and Depression are related to each other, in an environment where everyone is out there to judge you.
Moreover, only a small percentage of infertile couples seek medical intervention. Most resort to dealing with the situation by turning to superstitions and turning to unscientific methods.
The Psychological impact of infertility-
When people experience any kind of grief, in this case, being unable to procreate, they experience certain stages of loss such as shock, denial, anger, negotiation, sadness, and acceptance.
These stages may vary in their sequence and in the duration. In order to reach the stage of acceptance, it is important to feel grief through all its stages.
Therefore, a couple may first not agree that there is anything wrong with them.
They may then experience anger which may be directed towards each other, towards other couples who have children.
They try to avoid social interactions with others. Feelings of anger when anyone questions them about having children is normal.
During the negotiation phase, they may turn to God or other superstitions.
Some even channelize their frustration positively by starting support groups for people dealing with infertility, in the hope that this may make them feel better.
It is the acceptance stage which is important, whereby a couple seeks medical advice to deal with their problem. Infertility and Depression can be equally severe for a man as for a woman as male infertility impacts the self – esteem and confidence of a man greatly.
Dealing with Depression due to infertility-
Counselling– Treatment procedures such as IVF and IUI, done the traditional way can be quite stressful. At times these increase the correlation of Infertility and Depression.
The frequent visits to the doctors, the medications and the period of waiting can all create havoc on the person’s mind. Hence, counseling becomes important and should be an integral part of any infertility treatment.
Communicate with your partner- The reactions to infertility greatly depend upon the relationship between both partners. An open and frank relationship helps deal with the situation positively.
Discussing openly your worries and further course of action can help in taking decisions that are suitable for both. It also helps to know that both are on the same page in wanting the same thing out of life.
Relaxation techniques- Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation help to deal with any effects of stress that may result due to Infertility and Depression.
It may also help to keep a positive outlook during the treatment procedures.
Social support- Being a part of a support group of people dealing with infertility helps to vent out frustrations, seek advice and information on the latest techniques such as a Home IUI.
It also helps to keep abreast of new infertility centers and share your experiences. These will definitely help reduce the impact of Infertility and Depression.