PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a challenging condition that affects many aspects of a woman’s health, including mental wellbeing. Amenorrhea, hirsutism, infertility, obesity, acne vulgaris, androgenic alopecia are all symptoms. PCOS is a derogatory condition that impacts a woman’s individuality, psychological health, and quality of life. Even though physiological symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are widely acknowledged by healthcare professionals, little attention has been paid to the mental correlates of this common endocrine disorder.
PCOS is directly related to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, and even suicidal behaviours. Numerous research have found that the presence of anxiety and depression in women with PCOS is considerably higher than in women of the same age who do not have PCOS.
Because of hormonal imbalances, PCOS is a significant contributor to women’s psychological problems. Testosterone, which is present in unusually high levels in women with PCOS, is responsible for the physical appearance of these women, including male pattern hair growth, breakouts, thinning or loss of scalp hair, and oiliness of the skin.
Why does it happen?
Women report higher rates of low self-esteem and disrupted interpersonal relationships, which contribute to anxiousness and panic attacks which lead to depression. PCOS is frequently associated with irregular menstruation and difficulty conceiving. This is because the increased amount of male hormones prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries. PCOS is now a major cause of fertility issues.
Many patients require aided reproductive techniques to become pregnant. These treatment options can be physically, monetarily, and emotionally exhausting for the couple, inducing additional pain and worry for the couple and their family members, resulting in sleep disturbances, insomnia, and a sense of despair.
Levels of stress appear to be greater in women struggling to deal with PCOS fertility problems due to the additional effects of body dissatisfaction as well as psychosocial impacts linked with infertility. This sense of helplessness may even lead to eating disorders, exacerbating obesity and the symptoms of PCOS. As a result, PCOS women are caught in a harsh cycle of hormonal disequilibrium and low self-esteem. Sleep deprivation, low self-esteem that leads to meaninglessness and dissatisfaction, and even self-destructive thoughts are all closely connected with the fragile balance of hormones that is severely disrupted in women who do not pay adequate attention to their health.
Anxious or depressed PCOS patients may have lower amounts of some neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit messages across the brain and nervous system. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, a chemical messenger in the nervous system linked to positive feelings, play a significant role in depression and anxiety. According to research, people with PCOS who have lower serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters experience more mental health problems.
How to Tackle Them?
People with PCOS who are stressed or irritable or who notice extreme mood swings should speak with their health professional about possible treatments. There are numerous treatments available to help with psychological distress.
1. Changes in Lifestyle
It is important to keep in mind that PCOS is a lifestyle issue, and the symptoms can be easily controlled with basic everyday changes.
- Diet- The impact of diet on depression and anxiety symptoms in women with PCOS has been studied. Low-calorie dietary habits combined with workouts do not appear to enhance anxiety symptoms and may only help with depression in the short term.
- Exercise- In general, living an active life may benefit psychological health. People with PCOS who exercised regularly had reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, while those who exercised at least 150 minutes per week were less prone to depression.
- Mental Health- Working on mental health by practicing yoga, meditation, breathwork result in higher self-esteem as a result of peer acknowledgement and societal approval, resulting in fewer psychological issues.
2.Medications and Supplements
There have been no researches on antidepressant medications or anti-anxiety medications particularly for curing women with PCOS, but they may be advised in the same way as they would to people without PCOS.
Metformin, a medicine that aids the body’s use of insulin, may help people with PCOS with their symptoms of depression. Metformin may also aid in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety. Another common medication for depression is antidepressants. Interestingly, some antidepressants can contribute to weight gain and may affect blood glucose levels. As a result, antidepressants should not be seen as the first-line treatment for depression in females with PCOS.
If they are required, you may need to experiment with many different types to determine which one works the best for you. Taking omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil alone, or in pairs with Vitamin D may help people with PCOS reduce their psychological symptoms. If you have hormonal disturbances such as a larger amount of androgen, birth control pills may be prescribed to help rectify it.
3. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
People with PCOS who get acupuncture and practice mindfulness for 30 minutes per day may experience improvements in mental health problems. Yoga poses, assisted relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation may help people with PCOS with their anxiety symptoms. Some PCOS patients may develop a spike in facial hair. They may be self-conscious about it, based on the society in which they live. Laser hair removal may help people with PCOS who are depressed or anxious because of their facial hair.
4. Mental Health Therapy
For a long time, word therapy has been linked with stacks of stigmatized beliefs. However, therapy entails far more than simply sitting on a couch while waiting to be diagnosed with a disease. The need to discuss your feelings, troubles, and sufferings have frequently been portrayed as despicable or weak acts. However, we are unaware that this stigma on its own sets us on a downward spiral of viewing our emotions as an embarrassment.
Talk therapy, also known as counselling, is widely regarded as one of the most impactful treatments for depression.
Types of therapy include –
- Cognitive behavioural therapy assists in identifying and changing negative thought patterns, as well as teaching coping strategies. This is the most widely accepted form of treatment.
- Interpersonal therapy is concerned with resolving issues in personal relations.
- Psychodynamic therapy focuses on identifying and understanding negative behavioural trends that stem from previous encounters and then trying to rectify them.
- Support groups allow you to meet other people in your situation and discuss your problems with them.