How to Reduce Anxiety and Depression During IVF

Four Parts:Finding SupportTaking Care of YourselfLowering AnxietyReducing Depression

Many hormonal changes occur throughout IVF, which can lead to changes in mood and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Pregnancy and infertility can also contribute to feelings of depression.[1] It’s not uncommon for anxiety to occur as a result of many medical procedures. It is stressful to expect and experience pain, in addition to not knowing what outcomes lie ahead. It’s important to take care of yourself by surrounding yourself with support and taking care of your body and emotions during this time. By giving yourself time, relaxation, and social support, you can get through this more effectively.

Part 1
Finding Support

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    See a therapist. Therapy can help you cope with feelings of depression and anxiety related to IVF. A therapist will help you work through your emotions and confront your negative thoughts that may contribute to anxiety and depression. Your therapist can also give you coping skills to practice when faced with anxiety or depression.[2]
    • Most importantly, a therapist is someone who is there to support you during difficult times and listen to you nonjudgmentally.
    • Choose a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and allows you to express your thoughts and feelings easily.
    • Go to your local mental health clinic or call your insurance provider to find a therapist. You can also find a therapist through personal recommendations, professional contacts, or university resources.[3]
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    Seek social support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends when you need some support. If you feel alone, call a friend and arrange an activity to do together. Find the people you feel comfortable crying in front of and let yourself cry. If you need a venting session, call someone who you know will listen. IVF often includes many complex emotions, and it’s okay to lean on people for support. Reaching out for support can help you cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.[4]
    • To ask for help, you can say, “I’m having a hard time, and I am reaching out for help. I’m trying to keep it together, but I feel so overwhelmed. I’d really appreciate a listening ear.”
    • You can also say, “IFV is really draining me, and I don’t want my life to be consumed by it. I’d like to get together with you and do something fun. Would you like to come over and watch a movie?”
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    Join a support group. A support group can be a huge source of comfort and support during IVF. A support group can help you connect with other people who are enduring similar problems. Support groups are a good place to exchange support and advice and meet other people going through similar challenges.[5] Ask your medical doctor or therapist for a referral.
    • Find a local support group or join an online support network.
    • Use reputable websites and avoid negative comments on discussion boards. It’s easy to feel discouraged when reading negative comments. Keep in mind that other people’s experiences may not be your experience.

Part 2
Taking Care of Yourself

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    Laugh often. IVF can leave you feeling down and discouraged, yet don’t forget to find humor whenever and wherever you can. Laughter helps to relax you, boost your immunity, increase your overall well-being, improve your mood, and relieve stress.[6] Engage in activities you know will encourage you to laugh.
    • These activities may be watching funny movies or video clips, playing with pets or children, inviting friends over for a game night, or singing karaoke. Do things you know you will enjoy.
    • Create a video clip playlist you know will make you laugh. When you’re feeling down, discouraged, or anxious, watch some funny videos and notice how your feel.
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    Express your emotions. Going through IVF is not a process you should feel alone in. You may feel many emotions and not know how to put them in words or express them to others. Art can help you with self-discovery and emotional growth.[7] You may choose to paint, listen to music, or create music as a way to express your emotions. Whatever you do, allow yourself an emotional outlet for you to feel fully and express your emotions.
    • Journaling can be a great way to express yourself. You can help clarify your thoughts and feelings, reduce stress, and solve problems more effectively.[8] Check out How to Keep a Feelings Journal.
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    Prioritize your health. Not taking care of yourself can contribute to symptoms of both anxiety and depression. It can also adversely affect the outcome of your treatments.[9] Aim to get good sleep each night, between 7-9 hours to help keep your mood balanced and depression at bay. Eat properly and prioritize your nutrition as a way to keep your energy levels high and your mood stabilized.[10]
    • Ask your physician what physical activity you can perform, as exercise is a great way to bust depression and cope with stress and anxiety.[11]

Part 3
Lowering Anxiety

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    Identify symptoms of anxiety. Recognize when you are feeling anxious. You may become anxious before procedures, during treatments, or waiting for test results. Notice your anxiety and bring awareness to it. Some common symptoms of anxiety include apprehension and dread, feeling tense and jumpy, sweating, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, muscle tension, stomach upset, and pounding heart.[12]
    • You may want to write a list of places or events that make you feel anxious. Then, write possible ways for you to lessen these anxieties.
    • For example, if you are anxious about needles, know when you can anticipate needles, then bring a book or listen to music when around them.
    • To learn more about anxiety, check out How to Know if You Have Anxiety.
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    Practice relaxation. One way to reduce anxiety is to practice relaxation. You can practice relaxation right before a nerve-wracking event, during the event, or use relaxation every day as a way to prevent anxiety and cope with stress regularly. Relaxation is a great way to handle stress and anxiety.[13]
    • Practice visualizing a calm and peaceful place by making it come to life. Listen to the sounds, see the sights, and imagine being at this serene location. You may choose a wooded forest, a deserted beach, or the top of a mountain. Feel the temperature, imagine the wind against your body, and look around for any animals present.
    • Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Lie down and get comfortable. Tense the muscles in your left toes, then relax. Do the same for your right toes, then move onto each of your feet. One muscle group at a time, work up your body, tensing and relaxing.[14]
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    Do breathing exercises. Focusing on your breath is a great way to reduce anxiety. If you are feeling anxious during a procedure or in anticipation of a situation, redirect your thoughts to your breath. You may want to spend a few moments preparing for your procedure by focusing on your breathing. You can do breathing exercises alone or with other people around; it’s unlikely other people will notice.
    • To practice deep breathing, slowly breathe in through your nose, then hold it for two seconds. Gently exhale through your mouth. While breathing, make sure your breathe through your diaphragm, which means your belly should move and not your shoulders. Pause between each breath cycle. Do this exercise a few times until you begin to feel calm.[15]
    • You can also check out How to Do Breathing Exercises for more tips and information.
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    Engage in calm and relaxing activities. Because IVF is an ongoing process, it can be beneficial to engage in a regular practice that encourages you to be calm and relaxed. Both yoga and tai chi are daily activities that can help move your body and release stress. Connecting your mind and body can help you ease your stress.[16]
    • It’s best to do these activities regularly and use them to combat and prevent stress and anxiety.
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    Practice meditation. Meditation can help with worry, anxiety, and stress by refocusing the brain and turning down the worries.[17] While many people associate meditation with religion or spiritual practices, there’s no need to focus on anything other than your own calm thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation is a way to focus on tuning into specific things in order to bring awareness.[18] When your mind is racing a million miles per minute on procedures and outcomes, slow down and spend a few moments in meditation.
    • For example, focus your attention solely on your breath. You can also focus on your senses: your sense of hearing, touch, taste, or vision.

Part 4
Reducing Depression

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    Recognize symptoms of depression. Women and men can experience depression differently. Women may tend to blame themselves, feel anxious, avoid conflicts, set poor boundaries, and turn to food for comfort.[19] Some other common symptoms of depression include changes in appetite and sleeping, fatigue and low energy, feeling hopeless, and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
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    Keep your social life active. Don’t let your existence melt into IVF. Allow yourself regular social contact with your loved ones and close friends. Being with friends is a great way to buffer feelings of depression and cope with depression symptoms. Even if you’re not in the mood to go out or meet with friends, do it anyway. It may feel more comfortable at the time to retreat and isolate yourself, however, being around other people is healthier when dealing with depression.[20]
    • Schedule regular phone calls with family or weekly get-togethers with friends. Surrounding yourself in friendship can help lift the feelings of depression.
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    Volunteer. One way to beat depression is to remove the focus on yourself for a little while and place it on someone else. Volunteering is an excellent way to connect to your community, combat stress and depression, increase happiness, and give you a sense of purpose. Especially during IVF, much of your focus is on you, your body, what could go wrong, waiting for results, and hoping things work out. Re-focus your attention one day a week on people in your community and feel good about the work you’re doing.[21]
    • You may wish to work with children, such as working as a mentor for an after-school program or in a crisis nursery. You can also volunteer at an animal shelter, homeless shelter, or elderly home.
    • Check out How to Volunteer for more information.
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    Try acupuncture. Some studies show that acupuncture can help with symptoms of depression.[22] Acupuncture involves placing tiny, painless needles in specific points in your body for therapeutic purposes. It’s a safe and non-prescription way to target symptoms of depression that will not affect IVF treatments, fertility, or pregnancy.
    • Acupuncture may even help boost fertility.[23]

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Categories: Development Stages