Are Severe Depressive Symptoms Associated With Infertility-related Distress in Individuals and Their Partners?

Brennan D. Peterson; Camilla S. Sejbaek; Matthew Pirritano; Lone Schmidt


Hum Reprod. 2014;29(1):76-82. 

In This Article


In total, 2812 fertility patients (1406 couples) received a baseline questionnaire for each partner and 80.0% (n = 2250) participated. Couples who had a child together prior to inclusion in COMPI and participants without a severe depressive symptoms score were excluded from the analyses. Thus, 1049 men and 1131 women were included in the overall study. At baseline the mean age of women was 31.9 years (SD = 3.6 years) while their male partners mean age was 34.3 years (SD = 5.1 years). Couples had been together for an average of 7.7 years (SD = 3.7) and had been infertile for ~4.2 years (SD = 2.3). Nearly 60% had been in fertility treatment prior to inclusion in the COMPI Research Programme.

As shown in Table I, 11.6% of women in the sample reported severe depressive symptoms compared with 4.3% of men (χ2 = 39.0, P < 0.001). Women with severe depressive symptoms had significantly higher distress levels for all three measures compared with women with no severe depressive symptoms. The same relationship was also found for men (see Table I). Women reported significantly higher levels of personal distress (t = −15.9, P < 0.001) and social distress (t = −7.73, P < 0.001) when compared with men. However, no difference was found between women and men with respect to marital distress.

Table II shows the results of APIM analyses (multilevel modelling). The results are displayed in the form of unstandardized regression coefficients. Severe depressive symptoms were significantly associated with increased personal, marital and social distress in both men and women (i.e. significant actor effects). There were no interaction effects with gender, indicating that the association between depression and distress did not differ between men and women. There were also significant partner effects for men and women in that an individual's severe depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of personal and marital distress in one's partner. However, for social distress only a female partner effect was found, showing that a male's severe depressive symptoms were significantly associated with a female partner's social distress. None of the interaction effects between partner effects and gender were significant, indicating that the association between severe depressive symptoms and effects on the partner's distress did not differ between males and females.