Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and implications on Mental Health

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and implications on Mental Health


Fostering Brave SpacesUnderstanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

A pervasive endocrine disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition of hormone imbalance mostly characterised by hirsutism, infertility, menstrual disturbance, and obesity. Generally, it affects the functioning of ovaries in women. There is an excess of androgens in the body, which are the male hormones. The condition also observes polycystic ovaries whereby the ovaries increase in size and constitute fluid-filled sacs. Globally, the prevalence of PCOS ranges from 6% to 26% approximately. Research has revealed that besides the physiological implications of polycystic ovary syndrome, women are likely to suffer from mental health issues as well. These problems on a large scale remain unaddressed. However, it is crucial that concern like this are given due attention

Connecting the dots between PCOS and mental health
PCOS is a very complicated health condition that can affect, both, the physical and mental health of a person. It is important to recognize that having PCOS multiplies the chances of psychological issues, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, the symptoms of these are reported to be more critical. However, one must note that experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression doesn’t mean you necessarily have PCOS. It is just one out of the many implications of PCOS.

Though anxiety and depression have the core focus in this debate, other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and eating disorders can also prevail.

It’s unclear what causes the increased risk for anxiety and depression among people with PCOS. It could be due to PCOS symptoms or hormonal imbalances associated with the disorder, or to a combination of factors that is still unknown.

1-Hirsutism and Infertility
One of the symptoms of PCOS is excessive body and facial hair growth and infertility. Any person experiencing this may find themselves in great frustration and anxious behavioural patterns because hirsutism or the inability to procreate implies they have no control over their bodies, which in turn leads to a distressing situation. It can even create strain on a person’s moral values and the culture to which they belong.

2-Hormonal differences
There has also been some research on how hormonal imbalance causes anxiety and depression in people having PCOS. It is noteworthy to highlight that most people develop insulin resistance which means there are increased levels of the insulin hormone in their bodies. It has been reported that higher insulin resistance is directly proportional to intensified symptoms of anxiety.

Apart from insulin resistance in people with PCOS, there is a boost of a group of male hormones, including testosterone, called androgens. It is said that these elevated levels are linked to anxiety and depression issues, however, this requires more research.

3-Chemicals in the brain
The advanced anxiety and depression concerns can have a direct influence on certain chemicals in the brain that are responsible for sending out signals to the brain and the nervous system, namely, the neurotransmitters. One kind of neurotransmitter, serotonin, plays an important role in stimulating positive feelings and in people with PCOS, lesser serotonin causes high anxiety and depression.

What can be done?
It is extremely pertinent that people diagnosed with PCOS, when they observe behavioural changes, feel anxiety or go through depressive episodes, must consult their therapists and healthcare facilitators.

These psychological conditions may inevitably affect the quality of life of a person and while it is significant to treat the physiological symptoms, it is cardinal that the psychological symptoms are not neglected.

  • Diet
    Research has indicated that low-calorie diets are not much effective in improving the symptoms of anxiety. There is a considerable relationship between diet and mental health issues.
  • Medication
    Anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication could be prescribed by the concerned health practitioners in a similar manner as they are prescribed to people without PCOS. Especially medication that allow some hormonal regulations, under supervision of your health advisor, may be sought.
  • Alternative therapies
    Practicing mindfulness and alternative therapies may be a good step to begin with. Breathing exercises and yoga could be other ways to calm oneself.