Are you in fertility depression or is it just the fertility blues?

Take our quick quiz to find out Infertility can have a devastating impact on you – in all areas of your life. It seeps out into your relationships, home, career etc. Most women cope with the ups and downs and manage it all themselves (somehow!). Take up of fertility counselling is scarily low and most people accept this is just how it is. But depression amongst women with fertility struggles is real and much more common than we realise. Studies show it doesn’t matter if women already have children (secondary infertility), what age they are, their diagnosis or even if they have experienced a pregnancy loss – the only factor that was strongly associated with depression was how long the women had been trying to get pregnant. A Harvard study concluded: Infertile women are more depressed than fertile women are Their depression levels peak 2-3 years after they start trying to conceive Infertility has a great psychological impact, potentially as much as a terminal illness So could your fertility blues be more than just feeling down? If you have even the slightest doubt or curiosity, take our quick quiz below. Tick any of the below you have / are experiencing: Loss of interest in usual activity Depression that doesn’t lift – for more than 2-3 weeks Agitation or Restlessness Marital discord Strained interpersonal relationships with your partner, friends, family or colleagues Difficulty thinking of anything other than infertility (very common!) High levels of anxiety or suffering from panic attacks Diminished ability to accomplish tasks Difficulty concentrating Changes in sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep, staying awake or waking up early in the morning) Change in appetite or weight Increased use of drugs or alcohol Thoughts about death or suicide Social isolation Persistent feelings of sadness, pessimism, guilt or worthlessness Persistent feelings of anger If you ticked any of these you could be suffering from depression. If you ticked up to 5 symptoms, you might have minor depression or if you ticked more than 5 symptoms you may well be suffering from major depression. Depression is nothing to feel guilty about. Some people are genetically predisposed to it or it can be triggered by extreme stress or grief (as experienced during infertility). It is not a weakness – it is not your fault. It is real and it’s ok to reach out for help and seek support. In fact, it’s more than ok, it’s a necessity. Most people with depression, don’t realise they have it… “I really didn’t think I was clinically depressed but when my psychiatrist told me that I was, it was sort of like ‘Oh yeah, I guess you’re right’. And when I looked back on it months later, it was so clear to me how very depressed I was but I just didn’t realise it then.” Lorna If you ticked any of the above – make an appointment with your GP / doctor and seek support. “Depression should be treated, not just because it may be hampering your ability to get pregnant (see the research paper in the Stress course) but because if left untreated it can cause long term health problems and affect your life in untold ways. *Checklist taken from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Read tips on coping strategies to deal with infertility.