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Blog, Counseling Orlando, Florida


Did you know that January 21, 2013 is considered the most depressing day of the year? I believe the news reported that the last Monday of January each year is the most depressing day of the year. The reasons they gave were because all the hoopla of the holidays are over, the holiday bills start arriving, and New Year's Resolutions may have already gone by the wayside. This time of year can be especially hard on those struggling with infertility.

 

I remember being depressed at this time of the year for all the reasons listed above. But, it also seemed like the time of the year when I had the most time to really think about all I was lacking in my life. I didn't have any of the distractions of the holidays, with all the busy errand running and gift buying. I had time to really focus on the fact that I was depressed because of all I didn't have. The "all" I speak of included a child to hold and a family all my own. I wanted a child so much and it seemed that was all I could think about especially in the months at the beginning of the year.

 

Depression can set in when one has unfulfilled expectations, hopes, goals, or dreams. It also can seem more prominent when you compare yourself to others. Each person going through infertility has certain expectations and when they are not met it can begin to feel frustrating and unfair. When you start to compare yourself to others you know, {those your own age or those younger or older than you, people you work with, those with whom you attend church, people you go or went to school with}, you can start to feel inadequate if you think you don't match what they have or what they have accomplished.

 

Depression can be defined as a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. More specifically, the sadness of depression is characterized by a greater intensity and duration and by more severe symptoms and functional disabilities than is normal. Symptoms of depression can be characterized not only by negative thoughts, moods, and behaviors but also by specific changes in bodily functions (for example, crying spells, body aches, low energy or libido, as well as problems with eating, weight, or sleeping). You might also have a change in your level of physical activity.

 

Everyday, normal activities can seem like a struggle when you are feeling depressed. The website www.depression.com had some good suggestions for helping yourself get through this tough time. They include:

 

  • Recognize early signs. It's important to recognize and treat depression as early as possible, which decreases your risk of becoming depressed again. If you pretend the problem isn't there, it's probably going to get worse. You need to watch for the types of events that contributed to depression in the past, and be alert for early symptoms.
  • Set realistic goals. You may feel overwhelmed by everything you "should" be doing at home or at work. Try not to be hard on yourself. Remember that depression is an illness and that you can't force yourself out of it. Focus on small, realistic goals to ease yourself back into your work and family routine.
  • Do what you enjoy. Even if you don't really feel like it, set aside time to do things that you like. Get together with friends. Take a walk. Go to the movies. Take up a hobby that you set aside years ago.
  • Hold off on big decisions. Since depression can color your outlook on everything, it's best to avoid making any big decisions—quitting a job or moving, for instance—until you feel better.
  • Avoid alcohol. Although you might think it will help you feel better, alcohol can make your depression worse. Depressed people are at special risk of developing substance abuse problems, and alcohol interacts with many antidepressants.
  • Exercise. There's more and more evidence that exercise helps with mild to moderate depression. When you're considering an exercise plan, don't be too ambitious. Find an activity you like, start slowly, and work up to exercising three times a week or more for 20 to 30 minutes.

Finding infertility support groups in your community might help you to get through the harder times on your journey to have a child. Infertility support groups are a way for individuals to come together in a safe environment to express their feelings associated with the struggles of infertility. A good organization to research is Resolve. By their own definition Resolve is a "community for women and men with infertility and provides information and support during their family building journey."

 

Seeking out a community counselor who specializes in issues associated with infertility might also be a helpful option. Check with your infertility doctor to see if he/she has any recommendations. If you do feel that your depression is becoming more severe (increasing in duration or intensity, disabling you from doing your everyday routine) it may be time to talk to your infertility or primary care physician. There are medications available to reduce the intensity of your depressive feelings and "take the edge off." Do not neglect to look into these options if you find feelings intensifying.

 

Of course, talking to your partner is a good way to release some of those feelings that upset you and cause you to be depressed. Your partner may just be having some of the same feelings. If you feel you have the support of family and friends, turn to them for emotional support and guidance. However, be aware that those who have not been through this first hand may be trying to help you, but might actually use words or phrases that hurt. (See some of my earlier posts.) The best thing to do through it all is to take care of yourself. Get up and take control of your life. Think about and make a list of the positive things you do have in your life and do something to better yourself.

 

Remember this is temporary and it will pass.

 

There is a plan for you...it will all unfold when the time is right. Until then, keep your chin up and your mind open wide!

 

~Tracy

 

 

 


Tracy Birkinbine is a licensed professional counselor specializing in infertility and adoption. She bases her private practice out of St. Louis, MO.  You can find information on Tracy Birkinbine and her private practice, Counseling With TLC, LLC by going to
www.counselingwithtlc.com.

 


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