DEPRESSION AND INFERTILITY (Part 1)

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By Dr. Kemi Ailoje

The society at large places passionate premium on procreation in any family setting such that in most cases, the woman’s place in marriage remains precarious till confirmed through child bearing. Awoman has to prove her womanhood in same fashion. Children are held as sources of pride and strength being equated to the male progeny. Infertility therefore entails a loss thought to be tangible and therefore impacts negatively on a couple’s mental and social wellbeing. Infertility constitutes a crisis in the affected African family. The attendant emotional, psychological, cultural and social burdens drain the couple of self-belief and esteem. The unsolicited and often inpatient societal demands and expectations places such couples under unimaginable pressure and tension. They may become isolated and neglected consequent upon the attendant social stigmatization.

In some cases, the female is held responsible for virtually all cases of infertility. The men folk are held as above the board. Consequent upon this, the woman is humiliated, isolated, derided, abused and rebuffed. Undergoing such life crisis has been the stories of most infertile women. It has been reported that they go to varying lengths visiting orthodox medical practitioners, herbalists, traditionalists and spiritualists in search of needed reprieve and solution while others visit clinics for regular counseling without the financial ability to go through recommended treatment thus compounding more burden in fertility clinics.

It is against this backdrop that we have chosen to look at the above topic:

Depression and Infertility

The description above is very similar to what lots of women or couple face daily and these may often lead to frustration and depression. Most often women/couple faced with depression due to infertility may not even realize it. Depressive state has been reported to impact negatively on fertility as well, hence compounding the already existing issues.

Symptoms and Signs of Infertility- Related Depression and Anxiety

Do you feel like your entire life has been hijacked by infertility? Do you go to sleep and wake up thinking about pregnancy? Infertility is emotional and physically exhausting. Studies have shown that the emotional stresses women with infertility are similar to cancer and cardiac patient.

The fact that the emotional struggle of infertility is common does not mean it should be ignored or that one should resign to feeling that way. As you flip through this list, you can jot down signs you have identified you experienced and discuss about the solutions with your fertility specialist and counsellor.

You Feel Worthless and Ashamed

Do you worry that people will love you less or not at all if they knew you are infertile?

Do you sometimes worry your partner may leave you because of your fertility problem?

Do you see yourself as broken and defective?

Then you are struggling with a feeling of worthlessness and shame. You have allowed infertility to define you as a person and have forgotten that you are so much worth more than infertility

Thinking About Infertility All Day Long

For women trying for babies it is not out of place to have infertility at the front of your mind. However, that is different than feeling like infertility is the only thing you can think about even when you are not in the midst of any fertility treatment. If you notice that you can hardly concentrate to enjoy other part of your life, the thought of infertility often creeps in to break your concentration then it’s a sign that you may be depressed and may benefit from counselling with a specialist.

Are You Saddled With Guilt?

Guilt is an emotion that should be limited to those who have done something wrong. Very often in life we feel there are things we did that we should not have done.

We may feel guilty for:
• Not starting to have a family earlier
• Not finding a partner earlier
• For not freezing your eggs earlier even if there was no way you could have known you needed to
• You may feel guilty for contacting a sexual transmitted infection that led to the infertility

If this feeling describes yours then you sure need to seek help.

Persistent Feeling of Sadness

Sadness is a normal action to unfortunate events. If you find yourself in tears when a fertility treatment fails and the pregnancy test results reads negative, it is normal

However, if:
• Your sadness seems to rarely lift
• You find your days are more gray than sunshine
• You have felt sad for weeks and weeks

Then you sure may be dealing with depression.

Depression can be defined as a feeling of sadness, lasting over an extended period of time and interferes with your daily life. Sometimes you don’t even understand why you are feeling deeply sad then you need to seek counselling………………………….….TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.