Higher suicide risk in women with PCOS, says study; crucial mental health tips | Health - Hindustan Times
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Higher suicide risk in women with PCOS, says study; crucial mental health tips for them

By, New Delhi
Feb 08, 2024 03:25 PM IST

A new study finds that women diagnosed with PCOS may face an increased risk of suicide attempts. Here are expert tips to boost their mental health.

While PCOS is usually associated with women's reproductive health, its psychological implications are no less. A new study finds that women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may face a heightened risk of suicide attempts. A common condition around the world, PCOS affects 1 in 5 Indian women due to reasons ranging from obesity to genetics. Polycystic ovary syndrome affects hormones and causes irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne and infertility. Women suffering from it are at higher risk of a range of disorders and diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. (Also read: Millets for PCOS: Amazing benefits, how to add to diet, and 2 healthy recipes)

PCOS affects 1 in 5 Indian women due to reasons ranging from obesity to genetics. (Shutterstock)
PCOS affects 1 in 5 Indian women due to reasons ranging from obesity to genetics. (Shutterstock)

The new study done by the researchers in Taiwan and published in Annals of Internal Medicine finds out that PCOS can increase likelihood of suicide attempts, even after adjusting for factors such as psychiatric disorders, other health conditions, and demographics. The study analysed data from nearly 9,000 women and girls aged 12 to 64 diagnosed with PCOS between 1997 and 2012. Notably, none of the participants had a prior history of suicide attempts.

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The findings underscore the importance of addressing mental health concerns in individuals diagnosed with PCOS.

"Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of women worldwide, impacting not only their physical health but also their mental well-being. A recent study has shed light on the concerning link between PCOS and a higher risk of suicide among women. However, there is hope. By incorporating lifestyle measures and adopting mental health tips, women with PCOS can enhance their overall well-being and reduce the burden of mental health challenges," says Dr Pankaj B Borade, Consultant Psychiatrist, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by irregular periods, excess androgen levels, and cysts on the ovaries.

"Beyond its physical symptoms, PCOS often takes a toll on mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and increased stress levels. The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS can exacerbate these mental health challenges, making it crucial for individuals to address both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition," says Dr Borade.

How to improve mental health in women with PCOS

"The link between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and mental health is an under-discussed topic, with recent studies shedding light on the increased risk of suicide among women with PCOS. This finding emphasizes the importance of addressing the mental well-being of those with this condition. Beyond medical treatments, lifestyle measures can significantly improve mental health for women with PCOS," says Dr Sonal Anand psychiatrist Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road.

Dr Borade shares tips to boost mental health of women with PCOS

1. Set realistic goals: Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. PCOS management is a journey, and progress may come gradually. Focus on making sustainable lifestyle changes rather than striving for perfection.

2. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate anxiety and mood swings. Limiting consumption of these substances can help regulate mood and improve overall mental health.

3. Journaling: Keep a journal to track your emotions, symptoms, and triggers related to PCOS. Journaling can provide insight into patterns and help you identify strategies for managing stress and improving mood.

4. Cultivate gratitude: Practice gratitude by reflecting on the positive aspects of your life, even amidst the challenges of living with PCOS. Cultivating gratitude can shift your focus away from negative thoughts and enhance overall well-being.

5. Connect with nature: Spend time outdoors and connect with nature regularly. Engaging in activities such as walking in nature, gardening, or simply enjoying the sunshine can have a calming effect on the mind and reduce stress levels.

6. Creative expression: Explore creative outlets such as art, music, or writing to express yourself and cope with the emotional aspects of PCOS. Engaging in creative activities can serve as a form of self-expression and provide a sense of fulfilment and joy.

7. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and compassionate toward yourself, especially during challenging times. Acknowledge your strengths and accomplishments and forgive yourself for any perceived shortcomings or setbacks.

8. Diet and exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight through balanced nutrition and regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity, a key factor in PCOS management. This, in turn, can positively impact mood and energy levels.

9. Quality sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can promote better sleep hygiene.

10. Manage stress: Chronic stress can worsen PCOS symptoms and mental health. Practice stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, or spending time in nature.

Dr Sonal adds to this list stressing upon self-care, CBT and regular physical activity for women suffering from PCOS.

11. Strong support system: One effective approach is to develop a strong support system by contacting friends, family members, or mental health professionals who can provide understanding and empathy.

12. Practicing self-care activities: Meditation, and doing other activities that you enjoy like painting, dancing, cooking, photography, learning a new skill or a language can help boost mental health. Doing these activities can help you to calm down and stay stress-free.

13. CBT: Another crucial step in overcoming suicidal thoughts involves changing negative thought patterns through therapy or cognitive behavioural techniques. This process may involve identifying triggers, challenging distortions in thinking, and developing healthier coping mechanisms to navigate crises.

14. Regular physical activity: It has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as improve overall mood and self-esteem.

15. Balanced diet: Adopting a balanced diet rich in whole foods, and healthy fats can help regulate blood sugar levels and hormone imbalances associated with PCOS, potentially alleviating mood fluctuations.

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