A study came out earlier this summer attempting to explore the emotional toll on infertile couples undergoing treatment to get pregnant, compared to couples who’ve had no trouble conceiving and those pursuing adoption. In particular, the scientists looked at feelings of shame, self-judgment, depression, and anxiety, and how those emotions might differ between men and women, too.
The researchers found that the couples who were infertile scored higher than those without known fertility problems and those seeking to adopt, when it came to depression, anxiety, shame, and self-judgment. They saw that feelings of shame and self-judgment were good predictors, too, of how likely a couple was to have symptoms of depression, which can include not just feelings of sadness, but also irritability, loss of interest in what used to bring you pleasure, reduced sex drive, changes in sleep or appetite, fatigue, and loss of energy, among other signs. Women, in particular, were likelier to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, the researchers found.
If you’ve been TTC for a while, probably none of this will come as a surprise to you, but it’s worth noting that what you’re undergoing, both individually and as part of a couple, is likely to make you vulnerable to depression and anxiety, not to mention feeling responsible for your inability to get pregnant – all of which places an even bigger burden to what you’re already going through. Do your best to take time to appreciate what your mind, body, and soul are doing, rather than what’s not working, even if it’s just for a few minutes every day.
Have you struggled with feelings of depression or shame? How do you cope when you’re feeling very down? What brings you up, or just puts a smile on your face?