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Should You Get Infertility Counseling?

Signs of Infertility-Related Depression and Anxiety


Updated January 03, 2013

There are a variety of reasons to seek out guidance from a mental health counselor when dealing with infertility. It’s important to note that even if you just feel that you need extra support, finding a therapist is right for you. However, if you're experiencing depression, then getting help is even more important.

This list, based on recommendations from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, can help you evaluate if counseling is especially important for you. Print out this list, check off all of the boxes that apply to you, and share it with your doctor or therapist.

You can also take this depression symptom quiz, and share the results with your doctor.

I think about infertility all the time.

You’re probably thinking, “How can I not think of infertility all the time?” Especially in the midst of treatments or testing, it’s normal to have infertility at the front of your mind. But if you find that you can’t enjoy life or can’t concentrate because your thoughts are always drifting toward your fertility struggles, counseling may be able to help.

I need help sorting out my options.

For some, infertility treatment isn’t too tricky. For others, understanding your options and deciding what to do can feel overwhelming. This is especially true when trying to decide whether to pursue surgery, IUI treatment, IVF treatment, or adoption, or when to stop seeking treatment all together. A trained fertility counselor can help you sort through your options so you can make an informed choice.

I have persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, or worthlessness.

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Some times sadness over infertility can be especially acute, such as at the time of diagnosis, when making big decisions, or after a failed treatment cycle. However, if the sadness seems to rarely lift, and you find your days are more grey than sunshine, counseling may be able to help you cope better.

I have feelings of social isolation.

A woman covers her face from shame.
Photo (c) User jfg of Stock.xchng
Avoiding pregnant women, baby showers, or those with young children is 100% normal when coping with infertility, and isolating yourself from these particular situations may help you feel better overall. But complete isolation is not a good sign. If you’re feeling extra lonely, find yourself avoiding friends and family in most instances, and want to stay home and away from social get-togethers that you once enjoyed, you might want to consider counseling.

I no longer enjoy activities I once did.

Are there activities you once loved that you now don’t find pleasure in? This isn’t the same as just choosing a new hobby, of course. But if there are hobbies, friends, or places that you once loved, and you just can’t get yourself to enjoy them anymore (though you wish you could), sadness over infertility may be coloring your perception of life.

I feel depressed.

Research shows that individuals and couples dealing with infertility may also struggle with depression. Depression is loosely defined as sadness that you can’t shake, lasts for extended periods of time, and interferes with your daily life.

I have feelings of anxiety.

Infertility commonly causes anxiety.
Photo: Paul Bradbury / Getty Images
Infertility can generate a good deal of nervousness, and some of that anxiety is to be expected. Being nervous about upcoming tests (especially invasive ones), waiting for results, and worrying about treatment side effects and results can all get your nerves shaky. However, if you find the anxiety gets in the way of your daily life, if the anxiety doesn’t seem to let up after periods of tension, or if you find yourself experiencing panic attacks, you might want to consider counseling.

I find that I get easily frustrated or angry.

Both anxiety and depression can lead to getting frustrated more than normal, as well as losing your patience more easily. Anger and frustration over infertility can also be misdirected at those around you. In other words, anger you feel over your situation ends up getting aimed at others. Counseling can help you process feelings of anger, so your co-workers and loved ones don’t become innocent targets.

I'm experiencing relationship problems.

Infertility places tremendous pressure on a couple. Some couples come closer, while others feel they are drifting apart. If you feel your relationship is suffering, seeing a counselor together may be a good option.

I have difficulty scheduling sex.

Infertility affects men and women equally.
Photo: Noel Hendrickson / Getty Images
When you’re trying to get pregnant, you often need to have sex when you don’t feel like it. If scheduling sex has become a problem in trying to get pregnant, either because your sexual desire has dropped or because of performance anxiety, counseling may be able to help.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Fertility
  4. Trying to Conceive Stress: How to Cope & Find Support
  5. Finding Support
  6. Infertility Related Depression and Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

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