Objective: To determine the prevalence, severity, and predictability of depression in infertile women compared with a control sample of healthy women.
Design: Subjects were assessed while waiting to see their physician: infertility patients before a visit with an infertility specialist and control subjects before seeing either a gynecologist or internist for a routine gynecological examination. Subjects completed a demographic form and two depression scales.
Setting: A group infertility practice affiliated with an academic medical center, a hospital-based gynecology practice, and a health maintenance organization internal medicine clinic.
Participants: 338 infertile women and 39 healthy women.
Main outcome measures: The Beck Depression Inventory and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale.
Results: The infertile women had significantly higher depression scores and twice the prevalence of depression than the controls; women with a 2- to 3-year history of infertility had significantly higher depression scores compared with women with infertility durations of < 1 year or > 6 years; women with an identified causative factor for their infertility had significantly higher depression scores than women with unexplained or undiagnosed infertility.
Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are common in infertile women. Psychological interventions aimed at reducing depressive symptoms need to be implemented, especially for women with a definitive diagnosis and for those with durations of 2 to 3 years of infertility.