How do you help your depressed wife cope with not getting pregnant? It often doesn’t matter if the issue is male or female infertility; what matters is she can’t have what she wants most…to get pregnant and have a baby.
And, the worst thing for you as a man is that you can’t give her what she wants. But, you can help her in other ways…
“Signs of depression differ by personality and by gender,” says Rich Naran, author of Depression Caring Coping Loving Sharing Surviving Relationships. “The most intimate person – the partner of a depressed person – will perceive the subtle changes before a co-worker or a neighbor does. In fact, partners will see changes that others don’t grasp.”
To learn more about how infertility affects a couple, read Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?: A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey.
And, read on to learn how to respond to your wife when she’s depressed because she can’t get pregnant…
Signs of Depression
If your wife is depressed, she won’t necessarily walk around crying or being sad. Rather, she may show signs of extreme fatigue, listlessness, isolation, weight gain or loss, changes in sleeping patterns, inability to concentrate, or feelings of being overwhelmed.
She may also show unexplained changes in behavior and withdrawal or detachment in communication or physically. If your wife is depressed, she may share irrational thoughts or even start to talk about extreme anxiety or phobias.
How to Help When Your Wife is Depressed
Learn all you can about depression. Depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain or a hormonal imbalance – it’s not necessarily caused by a difficult life or recent tragedy. Depression can even be caused by reduced exposure to sunlight or a lack of certain nutrients. Depression can also be the result of not being able to get pregnant – infertility depression. How her depression is treated depends in large part on the cause of the depression.
Never treat your depressed wife like a sick child. Let her know that you know something is wrong, but don’t demean her by “trying to cheer her up.” In fact, depression expert Rich Naran recommends never using the words “cheer up” in any way! Infertility depression is a very serious emotional health condition.
Learn about treatments for depression. Helping your wife depends on her signs of depression, as well as her level of acceptance of not being able to get pregnant. Because of the social stigma, denial and retreat are common when it comes to depressed feelings. This means that depression can affect not just your marriage, but also your friendships with others.
To learn about natural remedies, read Natural Treatments for Depression.
Avoid being a crutch or “enabler.” If your wife is struggling with depression, don’t take over all the responsibilities at home or create a situation that allows her to stay depressed and not get help. You need to find the balance between giving space, and still encouraging your wife to get help for depression. Also, learn how infertility can affect your marriage – it might help you help your wife cope with depressed feelings.
Get help for your own feelings about infertility. If you feel guilty about your wife’s depression or because of male infertility, seek counseling or a support group. There are likely infertility counselors, trained depression experts, or support groups in your community. One way to help your depressed wife is to deal with your own feelings about infertility – especially if you feel guilty, ashamed, or devastated.
If you’re considering leaving your wife, accept that there is no amicable way out. Make a clean break, not a slow agonizing weaning off, which only fosters more guilt, emotional pain, and stress. The breakup has to be clean, or it will mess up both your lives even more – it’s not easy but it is less traumatic over the long haul.
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To learn more, read How to Deal With Depression in a Love Relationship.