Trying to get pregnant can cause a lot of stress. If you’re actively trying, you have to consider things like your health and well-being, timing, and a myriad of other factors that can eventually cause you to feel overwhelmed.
So, it only makes sense that dealing with the stress of infertility can wreak havoc on your mental health.
Unfortunately, about 10% of women in the U.S. have trouble getting pregnant. While that statistic might help you realize you’re not alone in your struggle, it’s important to note that every case of infertility is different and extremely personal.
If you’re feeling down about your own infertility struggles, you could be dealing with depression. Let’s take a closer look at how infertility can cause depression, and what you can do to cope with it.
Shame, Secrecy, and Stigma
There are many potential causes linked to infertility. However, it’s widely recognized as a medical condition. It’s not something you can control.
Far too many women blame themselves for their own infertility. Maybe you’ve been there, yourself. Have you ever wondered if things might be different if you followed a different diet, exercised more, or stayed off your feet?
Unfortunately, those thoughts can lead to a lot of shame and guilt. You might be so ashamed that you don’t talk about your infertility or how you’re struggling with people closest to you. You might keep things to yourself or only talk about them with your doctor.
Keeping those issues to yourself can cause that shame to fester, leading to deeply-rooted depression that makes you feel even worse. The more depressed you become, the worse your self-esteem will become, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
The Stress of Treatment
If you’ve been dealing with infertility for a while, chances are you’ve gotten your hopes up on more than one occasion.
Maybe you’ve gone through a lot of treatment options, both at home and in medical facilities. While your doctors have probably explained the success rate of everything to you, it’s impossible not to have a lot of hope that something will work when you’re putting so much time, money, and heart into what you’re doing.
If treatments haven’t worked, though, and you haven’t been able to get pregnant or keep a pregnancy, it adds a lot of stress and disappointment to your life.
You can eventually start to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions, which can wreak havoc on your mental health.
Infertility treatment takes a lot out of you mentally, physically, and emotionally. If you start to get frustrated with the results, that frustration can quickly turn into depression.
How Can You Cope?
So, what can you do to cope with the stress and depression linked to infertility?
First, lean on your support system. If you’re going through this with a partner or spouse, they should be the first person you turn to. They’re likely feeling some of the same emotions, and can empathize with the situation.
It’s also important to reach out to family members and friends, and open up about what you’re feeling – especially if you’re struggling with guilt and shame.
Practice self-care. It isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. Find small ways each day to reduce your stress and focus on your physical and mental health. That might include light exercising, cooking a healthy meal, or journaling. Self-care is a great way to combat the symptoms of depression while boosting your mood and your perspective.
Finally, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Infertility can become very lonely and isolating if you let depression take over, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment.