PCOS and Mental Health

By: PsychologyTalks


PCOS is one of the most common hormone disorders that affect millions of women. With PCOS women do not only experience the long list of devastating physical symptoms of reduced fertility, excessive facial or body hair, weight gain, hair loss and acne, but also go through the pains of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Link between PCOS and Mental distress

We all have a tendency to feel sad and depressed, but the way we feel is usually the result of the kind of day we have had or on which side of the bed we got up. Such feelings go away in a day or so, but if it stays longer than usual then it is alarming and one must take notice and seek help. Emotions and physiological well-being are inter-linked. Prolonged depression and anxiety can be an indication of serious health problem. For instance, there is a clear link between physiological changes caused by PCOS and its effect on mood and emotions.

Professor Adam Balen, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and chair of the British Fertility Society, says, “PCOS is a multifaceted condition which impacts many aspects of health and well-being”.

Research conducted at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, revealed that, “Overall, women with PCOS had severe anxiety and depression compared with women without PCOS.” Similarly, a Heilongjiang University’s study conducted in China found the same correlation between PCOS and mental distress: “women with PCOS had lower scores in many functions, including vitality, social function, emotional role function, and mental health.” There are several studies conducted in different countries showing the same correlation, indicating that women with PCOS are more vulnerable to develop depression and other anxiety disorders.

There are number of reasons of mood swings associated with PCOS. Some are linked with hormonal changes caused by the PCOS while others are connected to sheer frustration that comes with the diagnosis. The physical changes of PCOS can affect body image. For instance, acne, access hair growth and weight gain /loss can severely hamper self-esteem and self-confidence.

Treatment options

Antipsychotic and antidepressants are usually prescribed by doctors to treat prolong depression and anxiety but these drugs have severe undesirable side effects. For example, Lithium therapy is found effective in treating bipolar mood disorder but it may worsen depression, if continued for long term.  Doctors may prescribe antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, which are from the family of ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors’ (SSRIs) but these too come with the side effects, such as headache, insomnia, anxiety and agitation.

Good news is that there are natural remedies available. Women who are battling with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can often use a well-balanced diet to help regulate their insulin and blood sugar levels, which will keep their condition from worsening. By eating a diet high in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar, women can help reverse their symptoms. Regular exercise can keep mind and body fit and healthy. Nutritional supplements can also provide a combination of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to regulate systems in the body.

Seek help and develop the support system

Depression worsens with the feeling of loneliness.  Realizing that you are not alone is the key to defeat depression. Seek people who are going through the same problem, develop a network and support each other. There are already hundreds of blogs and communities exist to help women coping up with PCOS.

Becoming victorious over the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is not an easy task. It takes strength, courage, and perseverance.


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