Depression and PCOS
PCOS is a complex condition which affects many aspects of a woman’s physical and mental health. Women who have been diagnosed with PCOS are about 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than women without PCOS. PCOS women are also likely to notice severe symptoms of depression compared to others.
Most of the findings on PCOS and mental health has focused on depression, but it is also associated with an increased possibility of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.
What is the link between PCOS and Mental Health?
It’s uncertain what causes the increased risk for depression among women with PCOS. Some experts feel that it could be because of PCOS symptoms or hormonal imbalance or a combination of both.
PCOS can cause symptoms like infertility and hirsutism. This can intensify the feeling of anxiousness and frustration among women and they can get concerned about their ability to get pregnant or about their weight or how they look taking a direct toll on their self-esteem. Women with PCOS are often stressed about the fact that they do not have a control on their health or bodies.
Some experts are of the opinion that insulin resistance which happens due to hormonal imbalance in the body does have an impact on mental health of women with PCOS. Also, with the male hormones being on an elevated level, women also face male pattern balding and facial hair which affects their confidence.
Some PCOS women have been recorded to have lower levels of some neurotransmitters which sends signals throughout the brain and nervous system. They are associated with positive feelings. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is a chemical messenger inside the nervous system that is linked with positive feelings play an important role in depression. As women with PCOS have lower levels of serotonin, they tend to show signs of depression.
How can they be treated?
Depression can be handled in many ways, ranging from therapy to medications and to alternative help.
It is important that women with PCOS find someone they can talk their heart out to and who can help them in dealing with painful feelings and daily struggles. It will also be helpful in changing the negative thinking patterns that are a critical part of depression. Even though there are many types of talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy have been found to be extremely effective in treating depression.
Support groups are often found to be effective for women with pcos. Being around women who share similar struggles is found to be soothing and supportive in such difficult times.
When led by an expert, support groups can offer life changing experience and teach strategies that can help cope with mental health in the long run.
Antidepressants are one of the known ways for women to improve their mental health. Depending upon your requirement, your doctor can suggest the best one for you. However, it is important to note that these medications can trigger weight gain making your PCOS worse. It is advised to avoid them as much as you can and try alternative methods.
Some experts believe that mental health of women with pcos can be treated through alternative techniques like reiki and acupuncture. Mindfulness-based practice has been showcased as a helpful way to treat and reduce depressive symptoms in women with PCOS as well as anxiety.
Mental health concerns apart from Depression:
In addition to depression, women with PCOS are also at an increased rate of having other mood disorders like anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety are often very similar to depression. Anxiety can occur in various forms like panic attacks, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and acute stress anxiety. Some of the symptoms of anxiety are:
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep apnoea
- Appetite changes/loss
- Weight changes
When to seek help?
If you or someone you know may be depressed, it is crucial for you that you seek help from a mental health expert. Never be afraid to discuss your feeling with your family. Always know that you are not alone in this and with timely care, you can overpower it.