The most insidious and debilitating illness affecting women is depression. Depression and infertility have a symbiotic relationship - you have infertility, you will feel depressed; you get depression, your fertility decreases. Statistics clearly show that while men are likely to exhibit aggression and alcohol or drug addiction, women are more likely to suffer from forms of depression. Women, 2-3 years in infertility journey or undergoing unexplained infertility are prone to depression which if not consciously controlled can get suicidal. It is natural to feel sad but don’t let yourself fall into depression because that further deteriorates your chances of conception. Let’s see in detail about this delicate relationship between infertility and depression, set the perspective right and offer coping tips.
Depression and infertility have a symbiotic relationship - you have infertility, you will feel depressed; you get depression,your fertility decreases.
Depression Symptoms & Causes In Infertility Patients
As a clinical label depression is applied only to extreme cases but infact depression appears in many degrees and myriad forms. Nagging, overweight and pre mature ageing, chronic irritability, nervousness and tiredness to the point of lassitude are the outward indicators of something more than just unhappiness. Depression is a dysfunction of the whole being but women often don’t (or will not) recognize this for fear of being regarded as crazy or having their problems dismissed as being merely imagination.
In order to be taken seriously women unconsciously bring into being physical ills that actually did not exist until they themselves made them exist as tangible expression of inner tension. The depressed woman may then legitimately seek help for any of the wide range of symptoms including headache, backache, dizziness, heart palpitation, trembling or perspiring hand, loss of appetite, rheumatism, constipation, insomnia, nightmares and painful menstruation. Although these pains are quite real to the sufferer, doctors are usually at a loss to find the physical origin and no amount of direct medication is affective.
Women undergoing infertility journey begin questioning their self worth and purpose of leading a life juxtaposed with deep guilt of unable to bring a child into the family which is misunderstood as the only quotient of happiness. Depression and infertility keep playing hide & seek throughout the journey.
Depression is a common side effect of certain oral contraceptive pills and appetite suppressants frequently used to speed weight reduction. The weight of helplessness and the guilt of failure during infertility phase leads women towards depression. The inability of prove womanhood by being mother is a big social and psychological pressure in India.
If there is some kind of illness like electrolyte, influenza or hepatitis it can unconsciously trigger depression symptoms. Woman should be aware that depression is frequently associated with anaemia and often appears after childbirth usually for a brief period only. Miscarriage or failed IVF cycle can also trigger similar experience for the rise in hormone is same as in pregnancy.
Imbalance in glandular system also predisposes women to depression, especially in relation to pituitary, thyroid and reproductive hormone. An overactive thyroid gland for instance will make it difficult for you to sleep. You will be unusually jumpy and prone to anger. An underactive thyroid will deprive you of all your energy and emotional stamina, leaving you lethargic, irritable and vulnerable. Get your thyroid checked immediately.
Citing From My Personal Experience
When I was going through infertility I would often complain headache, low grade fever and backache. I got all sorts of diagnostic tests to find out the culprit but all results were normal. Still, I was convinced that there was something major brewing in my body. I even went to neuro-surgeon imagining a tumour in head. Well, there was never any diagnosis because the problem was imagination born out of depression.
Depressed women are subject to excessive fears and worries, shyness, timidity, lack of self confidence and feeling of inferiority. They are so constantly on edge that even trivial matters become major crisis. A woman in this situation feels that life is too much to handle and will tearfully admit “I just can’t cope up”.
The most outstanding sign of this state of mind is tiredness. Too tired to complete her daily tasks, the depressed woman finds that the more ‘rest’ she takes the ‘more tired’ she becomes. She is overwhelmed by physical, emotional and mental exhaustion and sinks into a feeling of lifelessness.
How To Manage Depression During Infertility?
Understand That Being Mother Is Not The End Goal
Depression is first and foremost a response to lack of meaning in one’s life and we must not make the mistake of defining a woman’s life purpose solely in terms of her sexuality. It is this error, this failure to acknowledge the full complexity of womanly being, that has contributed so much to feminine misery. Understand that being mother is not the end goal.
It is startling that most of the women who seek psychiatric help for depression are between 21 and 44 years old. And, we thought young women are outgoing, carefree and happy.
Suggested Reading - Emotional Wellness Is Important To Resolve Infertility Problems
Yoga & Shatkarmas
The practice of hatha yoga and asanas are extremely effective in rectifying imbalance.
Some recommended kriyas are:
It is a mild shock therapy sending a rush of energy into the head and invigorating the whole metabolism.
Dullness and heavy head are removed by the practice of jal neti which in case of severe depression should be practiced with cold, room temperature water.
The heaviness of heart is often reflected in an aggregated feeling of heaviness in the body and this is counteracted by shankhaprakshalana.
These kriyas remove tamas, physical sluggishness, energy blocks and bring a welcome feeling of lightness to the whole body and mind.
Following asanas help balance hormones:
- Nauka sanchalana
- Chakki Chalana asana
- Surya Namaskar
These help in balancing mood swings and may be practiced after asanas or independently.
- Kapal bharti
- Nadi shodhana pranayam
- Moolbhadra should be practiced extensively
When we are truly depressed not just sad out of sorts – conditions are not conducive to meditate. That is the reason a lot of women undergoing infertility journey claim restless and inability to meditate. Don’t worry it is absolutely normal. Here are some practical tips.
In such a situation when we do asanas and kriyas and bandhas then our mood lightens, the courage and clarity began to surface. Eventually meditation happens and helps to calm the senses. So start with disciplining your life, doing yoga and then meditation will happen.
Emphasis on Clean Living
Follow a schedule of sleeping, eating, working and meditating syncing it to natural cycle of body and mind.
Suggested Reading: Does Naturopathy Has Answers To Infertility Problems?
A depressed woman feels that she has no vitality and that she must take numerous rest periods to maintain the little energy she has. Basically, sleep for them is addictive relief from their problems. They begin to sleep more and more, not from physical need, but as an escape from grey reality. Stick to 8 hours of sleep routine. Resist sleep by taking a cold shower or engaging your mind in other activities. Get into sattvik harmony by getting up in Brahmamuhurta that is 4 am ( aim for atleast 5:30 am), the time of heightened consciousness.
Another means of compensating for misery is to find pleasure in eating more. Most depressed women tend to overeat and particularly crave for sweets. Thus begins the vicious cycle of unhealthy living – weight gain- aggravated infertility issues.
To keep the discouragement at bay, we must abandon the past and resist expectation of the future. Give full attention to the present. Recondition your mind to help fight depression emanating from the failure to not conceive. Control your reactions to the situations that life has put you into. Know yourself.
Practice Sakshi Bhava
It is a state where there is no judgement, no emotional identification with our thoughts and feelings. There is simply detached acknowledgement. Such an attitude acts as a kind of ballast during emotional storm, and brings self knowledge, peace and harmony. Instead of identifying with our weakness, we act from a point of strength.
Stay aware, stay strong.
Reference Book: Nawa Yogini Tantra – Yoga for women by Swami Muktananda | Yoga Publication trust , Munger, BiharTags: asanas coping with depression depression depression causes depression in infertility depression symptoms infertility journey yoga