What everybody with a history of anxiety should know

If you have a history of anxiety and are trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about your mental health but not for the reason you might think.

The impact of TTC on anxiety

Studies of women undergoing infertility treatments, or of men or women who have been diagnosed with infertility reveal an increased level of depression and anxiety in these populations. Trying to conceive can add a little extra stress to anyone’s life.

As you’re TTC, it can be helpful to make a point to check in on how you’re feeling now and then, and to talk to your partner about how the two of you can work together to make sure you’re taking your own and each other’s feelings into account. This might be as formal as doing your very own state of the union conversation every few weeks, or as casual as making a point to ask, “Hey, is the way we’re working on TTC working for you?” now and then when you think of it, or making a pact to talk to each other if something about the process is stressing you out in a way that you think the two of you can fix.

What a personal history of anxiety might mean later

Anxiety during pregnancy means an increased risk of postpartum anxiety and depression. The best way to use this knowledge is to keep a careful eye on your mental health during all parts of the TTC-pregnancy-parenting process, and to stay in close touch with your healthcare provider and other members of your healthcare team. Other safety measures that can be taken if you have a history of anxiety include sticking to established treatment routines, like regularly adhering to medication regimens, and keeping up with talk-therapy appointments; tracking moods; sticking to healthy eating and regular sleep routines (tracking can help with this, too!); seeking out support groups; and reaching out to a support system.

Anxiety and depression are both treatable conditions, so getting treatment can help. Knowing that a history of anxiety puts you at a higher risk for mood disorders during and after pregnancy isn’t a guarantee that you’ll experience either one, but it’s a signal to keep a close eye on your moods and your mental health, and to stay in touch with your healthcare provider and mental health provider as you move through the TTC process and beyond.

Read more
  • Hee-Jun Chi, et al. “Psychological distress and fertility quality of life in infertile Korean women: the first validation of Korean FertiQol.” Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine. 43(3): 174-180. September 2016. Retrieved July 3 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039311/.
  • Marika Ogawa, Kiyoshi Takamatsu, Fumi Horiguchi. “Evaluation of factors associated with anxiety and depression of female infertility patients.” Biopsychosocial Medicine. 5: 15. December 23 2011. Retrieved July 3 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262742/.
  • Oxford University Press. “Fertility Treatment: Anxiety And Depression Do Not Affect Pregnancy And Treatment Cancellation Rates.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2009. Retrieved July 3 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090128192131.htm.
  • Marion Tegethoff, et al. “Maternal psychosocial adversity during pregnancy is associated with length of gestation and offspring size at birth: from a population-based cohort study.” Psychosomatic Medicine. 72(4). May 2010. Retrieved July 3 2018. https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2010/05000/Maternal_Psychosocial_Adversity_During_Pregnancy.14.aspx.
  • “Fertility & mental health.” MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. Retrieved July 3 2018. https://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/infertility-and-mental-health/.
  • “The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment.” Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard University, May 2009. Retrieved July 3 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The-psychological-impact-of-infertility-and-its-treatment.
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