A condition of mental disturbance, typically marked by a lack of energy, decline in concentration levels and reduced interest in daily life. Frequently, a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors contributes to the onset of depression.
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Depression affects many people, for whom feelings of worthlessness, despair, and sadness overwhelm daily life. People prone to anxiety are more likely to be affected by depression.
Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. However, clinical depression is characterised by an inescapable period of low disposition, low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. When people experience depression, they often feel lethargic, unmotivated, overwhelmed, nervous, easily annoyed, or irritable.
Common Symptoms of Depression
- Trouble sleeping
- Sense of emptiness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling of guilt
- Loss or gain of weight
- Loss of sex drive
- Loss of appetite
Impact of Depression in Infertility
Infertility and depression frequently go together. While you may not be surprised to learn that infertility can lead to depression, you might not know that people who experience depression are more likely to have fertility problems. Infertility is a stressful condition, that can have a strong impact on your sex life, relationships, sense of self-worth, and daily life. All these factors can potentially contribute to the development of depression.
Depression is more common among those struggling with infertility who also have a family history of depression. Alternatively, women who have previously had episodes of depression, or those who do not have a support network to fall back on, are more likely to become victims of infertility. Infertility frequently causes feelings of shame, which may make it more difficult to talk to friends and family about one’s emotional struggles. The resultant isolation makes depression more likely.
Some hormonal imbalances that are known to lead to infertility have also been identified as triggers for mood swings and depression.
Depression may lead to lifestyle habits that can negatively impact fertility. For example, depression often causes overeating or lack of appetite, and being overweight or underweight can cause infertility. People who are depressed are more likely to smoke or drink, which can also hamper their fertility.
Infertility and its treatment have an implicit relationship with depression and anxiety. Women with existing histories of depression and anxiety who have been stable on medication may find themselves with worsening symptoms brought on by the stress involved in infertility treatments. Many women find the process of an emotional roller coaster of hopefulness and disappointment.
Levels of depression and anxiety appear to vary. One study indicated that women who underwent IVF were more depressed, had lower self-esteem and were less confident than fertile women. Treatment for depression and anxiety becomes important during infertility treatment as there is evidence to indicate that depression may negatively affect success rates in infertility treatments. It is thought that stress may affect fertility and may play a role in early pregnancy loss; stress hormones such as cortisol may affect uterine circulation which may affect implantation and placental function.
Cognitive Behavioural Treatment of Depression
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) helps individuals struggling with depression to embrace positive and fulfilling experiences, while also eliminating negative and unrealistic thoughts and interpretations of themselves, others, and the world. Some of the main components of CBT for depression include:
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Coaching an individual to monitor her mood and behaviour while shedding negative thoughts that can exacerbate depression is the first step. Then, it is important to impart skills to evaluate negative thoughts and develop more realistic and helpful ways to interpret the world.
Identifying how a person is currently spending her time is the cornerstone of Behavioural Activation. This step includes gradually sliding activities into the individual’s schedule that she previously enjoyed. A therapist will collaborate with the guest to identify and schedule fun and rewarding activities, such as interesting hobbies, exercises, or time with friends and family.
Examining relationships and interpersonal and social skills, enhancing skills for dealing with stressful social, work, school and family situations, and identifying ways to develop more fulfilling relationships builds a social ecosystem for an individual.
This step involves learning to identify and label emotions, the function of emotions, how to reduce vulnerability to negative emotions and how to increase positive emotions.
Mindfulness encompasses a process that includes becoming an observer of thoughts and emotions and responding to them in a non-judgemental way.
Common Goals of Depression Therapy and Counselling
- Identify the cycles of depression
- Skilfully manage daily stressors
- Learn skills to manage emotions and remain more balanced
- Challenge negative thinking and increase balanced thinking
- Decrease negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, chronic unhappiness, mood swings and low self-esteem
Increase sense of wellbeing
- Embrace positive emotions such as joy, satisfaction, peace and love, to name just a few
- Increase resilience and improve the ability to respond to adversity
- Gain an increased sense of meaning and purpose
- Increase self-confidence, energy and motivation
- Enjoy daily activities
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