Here are the most common signs of depression in women, plus tips on how to deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant. Take heart: you WILL feel alive and happy again!
“My partner and I have been trying get pregnant for seven years,” says Roo on How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married. “He has four kids from two previous relationships so I know he’s not the reason I can’t get pregnant. He’s 31, I’m 33. I’m falling apart more every day and he’s just angry at me. He doesn’t know why I can’t just snap out of it. I have all of the symptoms of depression and I just want to get pregnant. I don’t have much feeling for anyone or anything anymore. I feel so all alone. Even the smallest things are difficult and require so much energy. Even writing this comment is exhausting. I just wanted to write to say I understand and truly know how heartbreaking it is to be a woman and not be able to perform your basic and primary purpose for being. To create, nurture and give birth to another human being. I hate myself for not being able to get pregnant and I can’t understand why this is happening…how do I deal with depression?”
My first tip for dealing with depression is to stop thinking that having a baby is your basic and primary purpose for being. God didn’t create every woman to get pregnant! My purpose here on earth is not to have children and raise a family. Even if you are already a mother, your sole purpose is not to have children.
You were created for more. God may have put the longing for children in your heart, but getting pregnant and having a child is not the only reason for your existence. If you believe the lie that a woman’s sole purpose is to have children, then you will never learn how to deal with the depression that descends when you can’t get pregnant. You will always be stuck in the “I’m depressed because I can’t have a baby” rut.
Signs of Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant
These signs of depression will help you see that your feelings are normal. You can learn how to deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant – and you will feel alive and happy again.
Numbness, fatigue, sadness, anxiety, and inability to focus are a few signs of depression when you’re trying to conceive (TTC) and can’t get pregnant. It’s normal for a woman to feel depressed; not conceiving a baby after months or years of trying to get pregnant is a huge disappointment. Getting your period every month is heartbreaking.
Not everyone recognizes the signs and symptoms of depression right away. The following signs of depression include behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms, and will help you figure out if you need to get help.
These lists include a wide range of behaviors that could be signs of depression. If you exhibit more than one or two in each category, then you may be dealing with depression. If you have one or two signs of depression overall, then you may simply be sad that you’re having trouble getting pregnant (which is normal).
If you’re not sure if you’re depressed, talk to your family doctor, a counselor or psychologist, or even a fertility specialist. Reach out. Get help. Don’t struggle to deal with your feelings of depression on your own. You need to stay positive – whether or not you’re still trying to conceive.
- Fatigue, low energy, exhaustion are often signs of depression
- Poor sleeping patterns – waking early, not sleeping even when exhausted
- Loss of appetite or, occasionally, increased appetite
- Loss of sexual interest
- Withdrawal from people, work, pleasures, activities is one of the first signs of depression
- Spurts of restlessness can be signs of depression
- Sighing, crying, moaning
- Difficulty getting out of bed is a sign of depression
- Lower activity and energy levels
- Lack of motivation – it’s a physical sign of depression when everything feels like an effort
- Consistent sadness, misery, and gloominess are clear signs of depression
- Overwhelmed by everyday tasks (eg, cooking dinner)
- Numbness or apathy
- Anxiety, tension, irritability
- Helplessness is a sign of depression
- Low confidence and poor self-esteem
- Disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness
- Feelings of unattractiveness or ugliness
- Loss of pleasure and enjoyment
- Inability to make decisions
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Loss of interest in activities, people, and life
- Self-criticism, self-blame, self-loathing
- Pessimism can be a sign of depression
- Preoccupation with problems and failures
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Another sign of depression could be anxious feelings about what the future holds. Learning how to deal with anxiety when you can’t get pregnant is will help you cope with depression. Anxiety is helplessness and worry about the future, and can lead to worse feelings of depression.
How to Deal With Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant
Remember that getting pregnant and having a child won’t necessarily “cure” your depressed feelings. If you tend to be depressed because of biological or physiological reasons, then you could have a perfect life but still struggle with depression.
Further, you may have to deal with postpartum depression. Brooke Shields experienced severe postpartum depression after her baby was born. “I just felt as though I would never be happy again,” she said, “as if I had fallen into a big black hole.” Actress Linda Hamilton agrees. “The lows were absolutely horrible,” she said. “It was like falling into a manhole and not being able to lift the lid and climb out.”
Getting pregnant does not mean you’ll never have to deal with depression again. To truly heal from depression, you need to learn the source of your depression (eg, biological, emotional, spiritual, situational, etc). And then you need to deal with the causes of your depressed feelings.
Learn the cause of your depression
You may think it’s obvious that you’re dealing with depression because you can’t get pregnant, but you may have physiological reasons for feeling depressed. For example, you may have too much or too little of different brain chemicals or hormones (eg, low dopamine or serotonin levels can lead to depression). You may have a genetic predisposition to depression. This may add to your “situational” cause of depression (the situational cause may be the fact that you can’t get pregnant, or troubles with your relationship because of infertility).
Different causes of depression can lead to different signs of depression. For example, if you’re depressed because of low dopamine levels, then you may feel tired all the time. But if you’re depressed because you can’t get pregnant and you’re surrounded by happy pregnant women, then you may fell sad only when you’re reminded of your inability to conceive.
And, different signs or symptoms of depression require different treatments. The first step is to talk to your family doctor or even a fertility counselor. Get help. Don’t rely on the internet or fertility forums, or even on inspirational faith-filled blogs like Blossom! Reach out in person, be honest about your struggles, and learn the best way to deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant.
Be open to all possibilities for your life
Can you give up the idea that getting pregnant and having a baby will bring you peace and joy?
My husband and I struggled to cope with infertility for years. It was only until I surrendered to the reality of our life together that I finally found peace and joy. For me, what works is believing that there is a reason my husband and I aren’t parents. God has our lives in His hands, and He knows what He’s doing.
“If we give up the notion that everybody’s life but ours is perfect, we would be a lot happier,” says psychologist Joy Browne. “Nobody’s life is perfect.”
Even if you did get pregnant right away, your life wouldn’t be perfect. Whether or not we get the desires of our heart, there will always be warts, wrinkles and blemishes in our lives. Sometimes we think we’ll be 100% happy if we could only have children, but that’s not true. If you think you can only be happy – and the only way to deal with depression – is by getting pregnant, then you may find yourself disappointed again and again by your life.
Use your energy wisely
You don’t have an infinite amount of energy, do you? Whether or not you’re dealing with depression, you only have a certain amount of energy to cope with people, work, traffic, problems, and life in general.
Choose your battles wisely. For example, examine your expectations of people. Instead of expecting your husband, friends, family, or doctor to know how to help you deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant, directly ask for the help you need. Don’t make people guess or pry it out of you. Be clear and honest about how you feel, and don’t expect people to know what you’re struggling with.
Allow healing to happen over time
It’s not likely that you’ll simply pray a powerful prayer for healing, and God will miraculously cure your depression. The symptoms of depression are serious, and sometimes even getting pregnant doesn’t make the depressed feelings disappear.
Dealing with depression when you can’t conceive a baby is an ongoing process. You may not find the solution right away. You may have to try antidepressants for three months before you notice a change in your mood, thoughts, and behavior. You may have to constantly turn your thoughts and feelings over to God before you notice that you actually are dealing with depression in emotionally and spiritually healthy ways.
Help Dealing With Depression When You Can’t Conceive
In The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, authors Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn explain why our usual attempts to “think” our way out of a bad mood or just “snap out of depression” leads us deeper into the downward spiral.
Through insightful lessons drawn from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy, these authors demonstrate how to sidestep the mental habits that lead to despair, including rumination and self-blame, so you can face life’s challenges with greater resilience. Learning mindful ways to deal with depression is extremely helpful and powerful. Get support and resources – don’t struggle with depressed feelings alone. Find ways to help yourself through the process, to heal, and to get emotionally healthy.
If you’re a woman of faith, read Broken Vessel Restored: How to Overcome Depression, Illness, Infertility, and Hormonal Imbalance and Reclaim Your Connection to God by Wanda Cooper. She understands the feelings of confusion and despair, and can help you learn how to deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant.
In this book, Wanda describes:
- The real cause of mental imbalances and how to stop the suffering.
- The three nutrients all women’s bodies desperately need.
- How to heal from past abuse and overcome negative thought patterns.
- The major causes of depression and how to conquer them all.
Wanda understands the feelings of confusion and despair that keep women from finding their way out of the darkness. With empathy and compassion, she reaches out to every woman who has ever felt broken, disconnected, or without hope.
Your thoughts on how to deal with depression when you can’t get pregnant are welcome here. I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share what it feels like to be depressed because it’s taking so long to conceive.