When You Feel Depressed and Are Trying to Conceive

Why People Don't Seek Help + 5 Things You Can Do to Start Feeling Better

Woman looking out window, feeling depressed and not sure what to do
You do not have to suffer. Please reach out for help if you're feeling depressed or anxious. JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Image

I’m so depressed. I don’t know what to do... I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve either heard this said or received an email with these words. I have been there myself, too. Many times.

When you’re depressed, you may really have no idea what to do next or where to turn. When you’re trying to conceive and depressed, the combination can be even more overwhelming.

First, I’ll discuss thoughts that keep depressed men and women from reaching out for help when trying to conceive.

Secondly, I’ll give you five things you can do now to get yourself on a road to emotional recovery.

Why Your Depression Is Important

Some men and women will neglect to get help when trying to conceive. Please don’t do this! It is important to get help.

See if you recognize in yourself some of these dysfunctional thoughts and myths.

I’m infertile, of course I’m depressed. How could it be otherwise?

The truth: it’s actually possible to struggle with infertility and not be depressed.

Stressed, yes. Sad at times and sometimes worried. But depression isn't a requirement.

Depression is not something you should just consider a part of infertility. 

With support and an arsenal of coping skills, you can feel better.

I don’t need therapy or medication. I need to get pregnant. Then, I will be happy.

The truth: I’m sorry to tell you that pregnancy is not a cure to infertility-related depression.

In fact, women who struggled to get pregnant are more likely to experience pregnancy depression and postpartum depression.

It’s best to get the help and coping skills you need now. Don’t count on pregnancy to cure your emotional heartache.

Why should I tell my doctor? I can’t take anything anyway.

The truth: there are medications for anxiety and depression that can be used when trying to conceive and even when pregnant.

They are not completely risk-free...  but remaining depressed is also not risk-free.

Your doctor can discuss your options and the pros and cons with you.

My depression is the least important issue right now. Getting pregnant and infertility must remain my focus.

The truth: your emotional well-being is as important – if not more so – than your physical health.

In fact, they affect each other.

Research has found that depression may increase your risk of fertility problems.

Your emotional health may play a role in your eventual pregnancy success.

What to Do #1: Make an Appointment to Talk to Your Doctor

A medical doctor, that is.

You can make the appointment with your general practitioner, but ideally, if you can meet with your gynecologist or fertility doctor, that will be better.

You might think your emotional life isn’t important to your gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist (RE), but it is. Tell them what you’re experiencing.

You may benefit from taking antidepressants. Yes, you can take them even if you’re trying to conceive.

You should also tell your doctor because low mood and anxiety can be symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.

Some causes of infertility can lead to anxiety and depression.

For example, untreated thyroid conditions can cause infertility and low mood.

PCOS, a common cause of female infertility, is associated with depression.

Low testosterone in men can cause infertility and depression.

Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause depression and impact fertility.

Be aware that some medications and fertility drugs can cause mood swings, anxiety, or depression. Some can worsen or magnify emotional problems that are already present.

If your doctor knows you’re struggling, he may be able to prescribe different medications that possibly won’t affect your mood as much.

What to Do #2: Find a Counselor

It is my personal opinion that anyone going through infertility – whether they think they are depressed or not – should seek out counseling.

However, if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, I especially hope you will take the time to find a therapist.

Some people don’t consider therapy because they don’t realize their health plan covers it. (Call and find out!)

Others think therapy is only for people with “serious” mental health problems.

Therapy is for anyone coping with a difficult or stressful experience. You don’t have to be official clinically depressed or anxious to see a therapist or to benefit from talk therapy.

Plus, some research has found that cognitive behavioral therapy may boost your odds of pregnancy success. Yes, really!

If you’re past your trying to conceive years, you could also benefit from therapy.

Therapy can provide a place to properly grieve and process the trauma of infertility.

At least try it out before you dismiss it.

What to Do #3: Join a Support Group

The isolation of infertility (and depression) can make you feel worse.

If you can surround yourself with people who understand, it can make a huge improvement in your ability to cope.

The best option is an in-person support group. Call your local fertility clinic for referrals.

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association also has groups that you can join. Contact them for information on joining a local group.

If you can’t join a real-life group, look online for support. The trying to conceive blogging world can be very supportive, and there are a number of fertility-focused forums.

Just look out for fertility-forum drama. The wrong group can make you feel worse.

Don’t hesitate to look elsewhere if your first tries aren’t a good fit.

What to Do #4: Call a Friend and Talk About Your Struggle

If you’re still suffering silently, today is the day you stop.

Your friends want to help you. Infertility is hard enough without feeling like you’re keeping some big bad secret.

Choose someone who you believe will support you and is a good listener. Tell them about your depression and your infertility. Tell them how they can help.

I promise you, a good friend wants to help.

What to Do #5: Focus on Self-Care

When you’re depressed, you may not feel like taking care of yourself. The smallest things can feel difficult. Or, you may feel unworthy of being taken care of.

Try anyway.

Do your best to…

And if you’re thinking, “I’m depressed, I can’t sleep, I don’t feel like eating, and I have no energy for exercise.”

I understand.  Just do your best, for now.

You may need to learn how to take care of yourself. Don’t feel bad if you don’t really know what that means. Many people don’t!

Know that with time, therapy, and possibly medication, things will get better. They will get easier.

You are going to be okay again.

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