Are severe depressive symptoms associated with infertility-related distress in individuals and their partners?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Brennan D. Peterson
  • Camilla Sandal Sejbæk
  • Matthew Prritano
  • Schmidt, Lone
Study question: Are severe depressive symptoms in women and men associated with individual and dyadic infertility-related stress in couples undergoing infertility treatment?
Summary answer: Severe depressive symptoms were significantly associated with increased infertility-related distress at both the individual and partner level.
What is known already?: An infertility diagnosis, the stress of medical treatments and a prior history of depression are risk factors for future depression in those undergoing fertility treatments. Studies examining the impact of severe depressive symptoms on infertility-related distress in couples are lacking.
Study design, size, duration: This cross-sectional study included 1406 couples who were consecutively referred patients undergoing fertility treatments in Denmark in the year 2000. A total of 1049 men and 1131 women were included in the study.
Participants/materials, setting, methods: Participants were consecutively referred patients undergoing a cycle of medically assisted reproduction treatment at five Danish public and private clinics specializing in treating fertility patients. Severe depressive symptoms were measured by the Mental Health Inventory 5 from the Short Form Health Survey 36. Infertility distresswas measured by the COMPI Fertility Problem Stress Scales. Multilevel modelling using the actor–partner interdependence model was used to study the couple as the unit of analysis.
Main results and the role of chance: Severe depressive symptoms were reported in 11.6% of women and 4.3% of men, and were significantly associated with increased infertility-related distress at the individual and partner level. There was no significant interaction for gender indicating that men and women did not differ in how severe depressive symptoms were associated with infertility distress.
Limitations, reason for caution: Because of the cross-sectional study design, the study findings only show an association between severe depressive symptoms to individual and partner distress at a single point in time; however, nothing is known about causality.
Wider implications of the findings: This study adds to the growing body of literature using the couple as the unit of analysis to study the relationship between depression and infertility distress. Recommendations for medical and mental health professionals that underscore the potential risk factors for depressed men and women who are pursuing infertility treatments are provided. Additional studies using a longitudinal study design to track the impact of depression on distress over the course of the infertility treatment cyclewould be valuable for increasing our
understanding of the complex relationship that exists between these psychosocial factors.
Study funding/competing interests: Authors Brennan Peterson and Matthew Pirritano have no financial disclosures for this study. Camilla Sandal Sejbaek and Lone Schmidt have received research grants fromthe Danish Health Insurance Foundation (J. nr. 2008B105) and Merck Sharp & Dohme. The funders had no influence on the data collection, analyses or conclusions of the study.
Original languageDanish
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 91429391