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A majority of women in Japan who were due to begin or had already begun advanced infertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization, showed symptoms of depression, a survey by a Japanese research team showed Saturday.

The survey by the research team, including the National Center for Child Health and Development, asked 513 women questions covering topics ranging from sleep to appetite. It was the first large-scale survey of its kind, according to the team.

According to the survey, 279 respondents, or 54.4%, showed symptoms of depression.

Of them, 163, or 31.8%, had mild symptoms, while 85, or 16.6%, showed moderate symptoms.

Severe symptoms were found in 27 respondents, while four had extremely severe symptoms.

Among the 59 respondents in their 20s, 78% showed symptoms of depression. The higher percentage could be attributable to the heavy financial burden of the treatment, according to the research team.

Among those in their 20s, mild symptoms were found in 30 respondents, moderate symptoms in 10 and severe symptoms in six. There were no respondents with extremely severe symptoms.

The research team plans to conduct a follow-up survey to see how their mental conditions change if prolonged treatment is required.

The government is considering providing public health insurance benefits for infertility treatment, but financial support is not enough, said Tsuguhiko Kato, a researcher at the center who conducted the survey.

“In addition to financial assistance, understanding from (other) people and mental support from experts are essential,” Kato said.

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