Anxiety, Depression Symptoms Common With Fertility Treatment

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Anxiety and depression may be common in patients undergoing fertility treatment.
Anxiety and depression may be common in patients undergoing fertility treatment.

(HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing fertility treatment often suffer symptoms of depression or anxiety, but few get any formal help, according to research published in Fertility and Sterility.

The study included 352 women and 274 men seen at 1 of 5 San Francisco-area fertility clinics. The participants were interviewed before starting treatment, and again 4, 10, and 18 months later.

The research team found that most of the patients suffered from clinical-level depression or anxiety at some point during the study. More than half of women (56.5%) and one-third of men (32.1%) had clinical-level depression symptoms at some point. Even more -- 75.9% of women and 60.6% of men -- had symptoms of clinical anxiety. Odds were higher for those who failed to conceive. But only 26.7% of women and 24.1% of men said their fertility center had offered them information on mental health services. Ultimately, 21.0% of women and 11.3% of men did receive some type of mental health therapy.

To lead researcher Lauri Pasch, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, the solution is for clinics to have a mental health professional on site -- so that patients know it is available and a "normal" part of addressing infertility. 

"I think we need a change in the culture at fertility clinics -- where the focus is on getting pregnant, and treatment success rates," Dr Pasch told HealthDay. "We also need to address the question, 'How do we help patients through this?'"


  1. Pasch LA, Holley SR, Bleil ME, Shehab D, Katz PP, Adler NE. Addressing the needs of fertility treatment patients and their partners: are they informed of and do they receive mental health services?. Fert Stert. 2016;106(1):209-215. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.03.006.
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