How PCOS affects your mental health: Expert shares insights
PCOS and mental health often go together. With treatment, you can gently minimise the symptoms of both conditions. Check out the effects of PCOS on mental health, its symptoms and possible treatments.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance that can result in serious mental health problems like anxiety, sadness, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and eating disorders, in addition to infertility, obesity, and facial hair in women. It is a complex disorder that affects a person's physical as well as emotional health. Anxiety and depression are almost three times as common in PCOS patients as in the general population. Many studies have proven a direct connection between certain characteristics of PCOS and mental health in recent years, bringing attention to the complex interplay between PCOS and psychosocial problems. The scientific literature now unequivocally demonstrates that PCOS- positive women have significantly greater levels of anxiety, psychological discomfort, depressive symptoms, and social phobias. (Also read: PCOS in teenage girls: Identifying signs and symptoms, lifestyle and dietary tips to manage it )
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Manisha Tomar, Senior consultant obstetrician & gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida, shared detailed information regarding how PCOS affects your mental health.
How does PCOS affect your mental health?
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send signals throughout the brain and nervous system. Serotonin is a chemical messenger within the nervous system that is associated with positive feelings. In people with PCOS, serotonin and other neurotransmitters are typically low which is why they experience increased despair and anxiety symptoms.
PCOS symptoms include:
● Irregular or nonexistent menstruation
● Gaining weight (especially around the waist)
● Increased Facial acne
● Skin tags
● Excessive body and facial hair
● Excessive Hair loss
● Skin Darkening
● Mood changes
● Poor sleep
Possible Reasons for PCOS:
● Insulin Resistance
How to treat PCOS and related mental disorders?
A key component of PCOS treatment includes treating conditions like obesity, hirsutism, acne, or infertility. Treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication. Regulating hormones through medication and lifestyle changes like exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight helps in the overall wellbeing of the person suffering from PCOS.
● Maintaining a healthy body weight
Keeping a healthy weight can be a constant challenge for individuals with PCOS. The body has a hard time using the hormone insulin when someone has PCOS, which can lead to an accumulation of both insulin and glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance is a buildup that is frequently associated with obesity. Along with monitoring blood sugar levels and engaging in regular exercise, and physical activity, dietary adjustments, especially carbohydrate restriction, can be beneficial.
● Regulating Hormones with medication
A hormonal intrauterine device or an oral contraceptive tablet are some of the birth control alternatives that can help manage PCOS-related irregular periods. Additionally, PCOS individuals with insulin resistance can benefit from nutrients like inositol and medications like metformin. You should talk to your OB/GYN or other female healthcare professional about these possibilities.
● Alternative therapies
Practices like meditation/mindfulness, yoga, guided relaxation, breathing exercises and acupuncture are some of the factors which help in depression and anxiety.
PCOS and mental health often go together. With treatment, you can gently minimize the symptoms of both conditions. Talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you. This may include medications and lifestyle changes for both PCOS and depression, and talk therapy for depression.