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Women's Behavioral Health: Infertility Services at UPMC in South Central Pa.

The psychiatrists and therapists at Women’s Behavioral Health Specialists help women manage emotional and behavioral concerns associated with infertility and infertility treatment.

Treatment for stress, anxiety, and depression related to infertility depends on the specific cause, your symptoms, and the severity of your condition. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more treatments, including:

  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. These medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms that are moderate to severe. However, before prescribing medications, your physician will consider the impact of medications on your developing baby should you become pregnant, as well as how the medications may interact with fertility drugs. Our psychiatrists will work with you and your reproductive specialist to determine the safest and most effective approach to treat your mental health condition.
  • Counseling. For some women, the emotional impact of infertility can significantly affect their quality of life. Our practice offers one-on-one counseling and group therapy to help women discuss and manage depression, anxiety, and mood imbalances. Our specialists may also recommend light therapy, exercise therapy, or other alternative options to help you manage your condition.

Additionally, we can provide counseling to help you decide how to proceed with your infertility treatment. This may be helpful if you are exploring:

  • Various infertility treatment options
  • Other family-building options such adoption
  • Egg donation or surrogacy

What are the mental health issues related to infertility?

Infertility can have a significant impact on your mood and well-being, as can ongoing infertility treatment. Mental health issues related to infertility may include:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Marital or relationship stress
  • Feelings of loss and grief

Each passing monthly cycle also can bring a roller coaster ride of emotions such as anger, betrayal, guilt, sadness, and even hope. These feelings can increase in intensity and become persistent and overwhelming as the process of trying to become pregnant continues.

What are the symptoms of mental health issues related to infertility?

Although it is normal to experience a variety of emotions while experiencing infertility or undergoing infertility treatment, you should get help if you experience symptoms of depression or anxiety that last for more than a few days. Symptoms may include:

  • A loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Depression that doesn't seem to go away
  • Strain in your personal relationships
  • Difficulty thinking about anything other than your infertility
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Inability to focus on completing tasks and difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, early morning awakening, sleeping more than usual)
  • A marked increase or decrease in your appetite and weight
  • An increase in your use of drugs or alcohol
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Social isolation
  • Persistent feelings of pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, bitterness, or anger

Who is at risk for mental health issues related to infertility?

Anyone who is experiencing infertility or undergoing infertility treatments is at risk of experiencing related emotional and behavioral issues.

It is common for women undergoing treatment for infertility to experience anxiety or depression during their treatment. And, the more difficult or demanding your infertility treatments become, the higher the risk of anxiety and depression.

It is important to be aware of how you are reacting, both to your problems getting pregnant and the physical and emotional stress of your treatments. If you notice symptoms of anxiety, stress, or depression, our specialists can help.

How can I prevent mental health issues related to infertility?

Infertility and infertility treatments can create significant stress. The best way to prevent mental health issues is to be proactive about your mental and emotional condition and get help at the first signs of problems.

It may help to eat well, exercise, give yourself time during the day to relax, and spend time doing activities you enjoy. Deep breathing, yoga, massage, and guided imagery may also help you relax. 

Need more information?

Phone: 717-988-9430

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