As little girls, we all wanted to be our moms. Remember how we would gingerly tread the corridor to her closet to try on her many outfits, smearing her lipstick across our faces and dragging her kajal across our eyes, in a rather misshapen attempt to look like her? Then, when we had friends over to play a game of house, we all wanted to be the momma. It’s little wonder really, that we all grew up idolising our mothers, wanting to be like them someday. Many of us grew up harbouring dreams that we would one day have our own little family. Yet, for some of us, life got in the way.
Infertility can affect women differently from men. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that our societal fabric is stippled with expectations from women, or that men tend to be less vocal about their emotions. The pressure of conceiving a child can manifest as a looming mantle, stitched from sorrow and grief, over couples experiencing infertility. And sometimes, this mantle becomes so heavy, that it heralds the onset of depression.
What is Infertility Depression?
It is extremely common for depression to be tethered to infertility. The inability to conceive naturally within a given time window can spur on feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness and sadness, and in turn, your mental and physical wellbeing can take a beating. Research indicates that women who suffer from infertility, experience anxiety and depression at par with women diagnosed with cancer, HIV and heart disease. How, you may wonder? Well, the physical toll that infertility treatments exert on women, by way of hormone treatment, surgery, medication, injections and ultrasounds, can be tremendous. Also, many hopeful couples shield their feelings from the world, choosing instead to tread a lonely path of shame and solitude.
What Are The Symptoms of Infertility Depression?
Infertility depression, like other forms of depression can take root in an array of ways. Intense sadness, tearfulness, insomnia and social withdrawal are the most common symptoms of infertility depression. If you find that your appetite has shrunk, you don’t look forward to activities the way used to, or are perpetually irritable, depression may be knocking on your door. There’s no better time than now, to acknowledge it.
How Do I Get Through Infertility Depression?
Whether you’ve begun seeking help for infertility or not, most couples cling to the hope that spreads between menstrual cycles, believing that the next month will belong to them. The trouble is, as the months grind on, and hope dwindles, everyday joys start melting into an abyss. Vacations, promotions and weekend jaunts begin to seem redundant, affecting relationships, careers and more. You may find that your relationship is feeling the strain of your predicament, with intercourse becoming a laborious, mechanical task, attuned to a calendar every month.
It is important to remember the following things when you are enveloped by a deep depression, caused by infertility:
- Acknowledge that there is a problem: Coming to terms with infertility takes an enormous amount of strength and courage. By recognising that you need help, you will not only find a way to cope, but also find a way to overcome infertility.
- Talk about your emotions: By isolating yourself, you’ll only sink deeper into your shell. Discuss your feelings with a therapist, perhaps by writing them down first. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a treatment that works at reversing negative thoughts in men and women, and has been found to work better than antidepressant medication.
- Don’t blame yourself for anything: It’s not your fault and there’s always a way out. Confide in your partner and work together to get through this phase.
- Meet a Fertility expert: If you haven’t already, meet a fertility specialist who can tailor a treatment plan for you. Often, conception is more in reach than you think; all you need is the right expertise and a little patience.
Infertility Depression is a Temporary Problem
Depression and anxiety associated with infertility will eventually taper off, leaving you stronger. The sooner you take these two conditions head on, the sooner you’re likely to find a way out of your situation. Ten years from now, you’ll look back and wonder what all the brouhaha was about. You only have to take the right step today.