Go With The Flow

PCOS and Mental Health: Addressing Anxiety and Depression

“Emotions are just chemical reactions in your brain,” said a smartass once. Even though they were certainly misguided in trying to cram a universal experience of emotions inside such a narrow scientific construct, all in an effort to belittle the depth and significance of emotions, they were not on an entirely wrong track.  Emotions, though not chemicals themselves, are indeed influenced by the intricate interplay of hormones and their levels within the brain.This is the reason why women experience mood swings as a symptom of periods and why mothers experience baby blues and postpartum depression. Because polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal condition, it too can take a toll on your mental health.

Understanding PCOS

First things first, what is PCOS? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) isn't exactly a household name, but it's a common hormonal disorder that affects nearly every 1 in 10 women.PCOS symptoms are not easily recognizable, but easily negligible as something caused by the usual hustle and bustle of life. Most women are diagnosed with PCOS only when they’re trying for a baby but couldn’t conceive. Once women receive the PCOS diagnosis, many recognize PCOS symptoms as something they have been dealing with for years.PCOS causes the ovaries to produce an excess of male hormones known as androgens. This overproduction of hormones disrupts the balance of reproductive hormones and, as a result, affects the menstrual cycle. As a result, women with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles and unpredictable ovulation.

The main symptoms of PCOS are:

  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Excessive hair growth on face, arms, chest, and abdomen
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Acne breakouts
  • Obesity
  • Infertility

The Link Between PCOS and Mental Health

While more research is needed to know exactly how and why PCOS affects women’s mental health, the very first and obvious factor that can affect your mental health are the hormones.Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgen hormones, such as testosterone, and may lack sufficient level of progesterone. These hormonal shifts can lead to confusion, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression, creating a general sense of instability. Many may feel guilty for not managing their lives as they'd like, which can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms.Beyond hormonal imbalance, the physical symptoms of PCOS can also play a role in eroding a women’s mental health. PCOS-related weight gain, noticeable hair loss, persistent acne, and menstrual irregularities can all feed into a downward spiral of self-esteem issues, frustration, heightened anxiety, and depression. Women who are trying to get pregnant but couldn’t due to PCOS may also struggle with depression and anxiety caused by PCOS.

Seeking Support

Mental health is a vital part of your overall well-being. If you or someone you know is dealing with PCOS and depression or anxiety, there are various ways to seek support and manage these challenges:
  1. Talk to your loved ones: Don't be shy about opening up to friends and family. They might not fully understand PCOS, but they can lend a listening ear and a comforting shoulder to cry on.
  2. Talk to your doctor: Schedule a sit-down with a healthcare professional who specialize in PCOS. They can offer guidance on managing hormonal imbalances and suggest PCOS depression and anxiety treatments tailored to your needs.
  3. Consider therapy: Therapy or counselling are great ways to address anxiety and depression. We might not have everything figured out, but mental health professional can help you do just that.
  4. Join support groups: Joining a PCOS support group can provide a sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences with others facing similar challenges can be incredibly beneficial to your mental health.
  5. Follow a healthy lifestyle: Implementing a healthy lifestyle can benefit both physical and mental well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques can ease some PCOS symptoms and improve your mood.
  6. Medications: In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medications to manage PCOS depression and anxiety.
  7. Pamper yourself: Sometimes, just lay back and chill. Prioritize activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or hobbies you love.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex condition that affects both physical and mental health. The emotional toll of dealing with PCOS, including anxiety and depression, can be significant. But you’re one tough cookie. Seek professional help, build a support network, and prioritize self-care to improve your mental well-being. With the right support and strategies in place, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life while managing PCOS and its associated mental health concerns. See you in another blog!

FAQs:

Does PCOS give you anxiety?

PCOS itself does not directly cause anxiety, but it can contribute to the development or worsening of anxiety in some individuals. The hormonal imbalances, physical symptoms, and emotional challenges associated with PCOS can lead to heightened stress levels, which may, in turn, increase the risk of developing anxiety.

What are the common symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals with PCOS?

Common symptoms of anxiety in individuals with PCOS may include:
  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating excessively
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
Common symptoms of depression in individuals with PCOS may include:
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

Does PCOS cause panic attacks?

PCOS itself does not directly cause panic attacks. However, the hormonal fluctuations and emotional stress associated with PCOS may contribute to feelings of anxiety, which could potentially lead to panic attacks in some individuals.

What are PCOS mood swings like?

PCOS symptoms mood swings can vary from person to person but often involve sudden and intense shifts in mood. These mood swings may include feelings of irritability, sadness, frustration, or even anger. Hormonal fluctuations, especially changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels, can contribute to these mood swings.

Are mood swings worse with PCOS?

Mood swings can be more pronounced in some individuals with PCOS due to the hormonal imbalances and emotional stress associated with the condition. However, the severity of mood swings can vary widely among individuals. Some may experience mild mood swings that do not significantly impact their daily lives, while others may have more severe mood disturbances that interfere with their well-being.

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