Women experiencing infertility report significant psychological distress. Infertility is frustrating, discouraging, isolating, anxiety producing, and depressing. Others are becoming pregnant around you. People ask when you are having kids, not knowing the extremely sensitive nature of that question. There are many unknowns and anxieties surrounding fertility medications and treatment options.
Many women in this situation would benefit from mental health support for coping with infertility and preventing depression, anxiety, and stress from further complicating infertility. There may be hesitation to start a medication for depression/anxiety because of risks when you eventually become pregnant. An alternate and helpful solution is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a way to normalize your experience but also correct any unhealthy thought patterns that tend to occur within the infertility journey.
It is easy to unfairly compare yourself to others around you or begin to feel hopeless. CBT helps challenge and change those thought patterns into more positive and productive thinking. Mindfulness is also a helpful technique for infertility that can be taught during counseling. Working towards being in the present time, taking each day as it comes, and letting go of the things you cannot control is difficult but extremely beneficial work. Infertility feels like a lonely experience, but with the right professional to help guide you through the process, you will not feel so alone anymore.
Maternal Mental Health: Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety and Depression
There are many names for the mental health issues that women experience both during pregnancy and postpartum. The clinical term is “perinatal mood disorders.” We like to use the broad term “maternal mental health” because most people know what that means. In our society we often use the term “postpartum depression,” but that does not encompass the other disorders that women can experience during pregnancy and postpartum. An example would be anxiety or bipolar disorder. Many of these disorders that women experience are not talked about for many reasons.
For example, society tells women that having a baby should be the “happiest time of your life.” So when it is not, women are afraid to admit it. Women are afraid to tell others they are having “scary thoughts” because they don’t want anyone thinking they aren’t capable of taking care of their infant. But speaking up and seeking help is the best way to start to “feel like yourself again.” Women tend to find relief from their symptoms quicker compared to when they don’t seek treatment.
The therapists at Move Forward Counseling are a valuable resource for women experiencing maternal mental health disorders. We have undergone special training to help women experiencing these difficulties. We provide therapy and work collaboratively with the woman’s doctor to make sure she is receiving the best care she can to get better. The best practice for working with women who are experiencing a perinatal mood disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.
Read this blog post about our journey to offering this specialty.