Young couple sittin back to back on the sofa,having relationshipInfertility affects as many as one in eight women. Dr. Alice Domar of Harvard Medical School and the Mind Body Institute estimates that these women are twice as likely to suffer depression. With numbers like these, it’s important to pay attention to the state of your mental health when you are in fertility treatments.

Depression is more than being sad about a failed cycle. The condition is characterized by intense feelings, sometimes described as feeling hopeless, that can last for days or even weeks at a time. It can be a debilitating condition and prevents your normal function.

Symptoms to look for:

• A mood of helplessness and hopelessness that is more intense in the morning
• Lack of energy
• Guilty feelings or low self-worth occurring daily
• Difficulty making decisions
• Difficulty sleeping or an excess of sleeping
• A general lack of interest in most things
• Suicidal thoughts or focusing on death
• Drastic changes in weight, either up or down
• Feeling sluggish or hyper

For women in infertility treatment, depression is often a side effect of the oft-described mental roller coaster that treatment can be for patients. It tends to manifest after women have been in treatment for 12 months or more, particularly when feelings of hopelessness and loss of self-esteem accompany negative results. Women who have a pre-existing health history involving depression are even more likely to develop the condition.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the notion depression contributes to negative outcomes for couples in fertility treatment. Stress hormones can disrupt the balance of hormones needed for both men and women’s reproductive systems to function at their best. In addition, these hormones might be disrupting blood flow to the uterine cavity, which affects both implantation as well as placental health.

Treatment for depression is key for these women. Most fertility experts agree that medication is the best course of action, preferably one that can be taken throughout pregnancy. For some women, the medication can be discontinued once pregnancy is achieved, however.

Depression is an unfortunate side effect for many women in infertility treatment. Typically seen in cases where women are in treatment for several months or years, women suffering from infertility are twice as likely as their counterparts to develop the condition. By recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment, however, many women can overcome the condition and go on to achieve their dreams of family. Talk to your doctor if you think you are experiencing symptoms of depression.

Sources:

“What is Depression?” www.webmd.com. 15 December 2014. < http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/what-is-depression>

“Impact on Infertility Treatment on Risk for Depression and Anxiety.” www.womens mentalhealth.org. Web 15 December 2014. <http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/posts/impact-of-infertility-treatment-on-risk-for-depression-and-anxiety/>

“Can fertility problems cause depression?” www.babycenter.com. Web. 15 December 2014. <http://www.babycenter.com/404_can-fertility-problems-cause-depression_6098.bc>

“Coping with Infertility and Depression.” Attainfertility.com. Web. 15 December 2014. < http://attainfertility.com/article/infertility-depression>