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Infertility is one of those topics that isn’t always talked about, yet it is more common than you may think. According to statistics, there are millions of people in the US who have a hard time conceiving.The CDC estimates that 6% of married couples go through issues regarding infertility. That is a lot of individuals and couples that are going through a very stressful time in life. Once you make the decision to have kids, the assumption and hope is that everything will go smoothly, and you will be able to conceive without issues and have a healthy “normal” pregnancy. But that’s just not the case for all.
If you’re currently going through IVF treatment (In Vitro Fertilization), or preparing to start treatment, it’s important to recognize the very real issue that can occur, and that’s depression. Here we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can cope with depression during IVF treatments, helping you to get through this very difficult and trying time.
Recognise your feelings
The very first step in coping with depression during your IVF treatment is to be honest with yourself and recognize how you are feeling. There is no shame in depression; it is normal and natural, especially when you’re going through such a stressful time in your life. IVF treatments are difficult from an emotional and physical stand-point.
A common issue that couples report is that they feel like they are on a never-ending rollercoaster of emotions. There is the hope that the treatment will be successful, then there is loss that can be suffered when the treatment doesn’t take. This cycle can repeat itself many times, which means a couple may go through many losses.
What are the signs of depression?
If you’ve never been through depression before, you may not even realize that’s what you are feeling. For that reason, it’s smart to know the signs to watch for, so you can act quickly and effectively.
Some of the most common signs of depression include:
- A change in appetite
- Feeling anxious or sad
- A lack of motivation
- Withdrawing from your usual activities
- Feeling angry for no particular reason
- You have a hard time focusing
- You have a hard time being positive
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- You aren’t finding happiness in things that you used to love doing
Be open with each other
It is also very important for couples to be open with each other about how they feel. It may be tempting for one person to try to be strong for the other, stay positive and act as though it’s not getting to them. However, if you aren’t being honest with each other, IVF treatment will be much more stressful to go through. Lean on each other for support, since no-one understands better than the two of you. The stress and depression can even put a strain on your relationship, which is the last thing either of you want. You are both hoping for the same thing, so being on the same team is essential.
Join an online community support group
Today, you can find online community support groups for all kinds of issues, and IVF treatment issues are no exception. You’ll be able to connect with others who are going through a similar experience, and possibly feelings of depression and anxiety. They can be a support system which is so important.
This can be especially helpful for women and couples who don’t have any personal friends who have experienced IVF-related issues and depression. They may be struggling to connect with their regular circle of friends and family since they can’t relate. Look here, maybe you will find the answer you are looking for, or at the very least a supportive community to be a part of.
Typically, these communities allow members to ask and respond to questions and topics, so that means you’re able to start your own thread and get specific advice and insight. Sometimes just knowing others can relate to you is all it takes to start feeling better.
Make lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes can also be very helpful when trying to cope with stress and depression. Typically, they work best in conjunction with other techniques.
Lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact include:
- Eating healthy
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying physically active
- Giving yourself a chance to relax and unwind
Speak to a professional counsellor
Sometimes, even with your best intentions, openness, and honesty, it still won’t be enough. The stress and depression can be too heavy. If that’s the case, it’s best to speak to a professional such as a therapist or counsellor. Try to find one that deals with couples going through IVF, so you can get a more personalized approach.
By visiting a therapist, they will be able to give you tools and techniques that will help you to work through your depression.
The most important thing to remember when going through IVF treatment is that you do not have to – and should not – suffer with depression in silence. There is help, as well as plenty of coping techniques.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.
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