PCOS and Mental Health
Posted by Kelsey Shaw
If you are new to learning about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, welcome. PCOS is the most frequent endocrinological disorder affecting people of reproductive age (1).
You may have read our previous blogs explaining what PCOS is, but you may not know that it can affect depression, anxiety and stress. In fact, studies report an overall higher prevalence of depression, perceived stress and anxiety in people with PCOS compared to people without (2).
You may be reading this if you have PCOS and saying to yourself, “why did my doctor never bring this up?!” Unfortunately, it’s still something that is not discussed as often as it should be. Let’s change this!
PCOS and Depression
Why does there seem to be higher rates of depression in those with PCOS?
Currently, there are still only theories to hypothesize what might be the cause of this correlation. People with PCOS have hormonal imbalances and this could contribute to the cause.
It is very common in people with PCOS to be insulin resistant. This basically results in their pancreas working overtime and their bloodstream having higher levels of insulin. There is still much more research needed in this area, however there is growing evidence that insulin resistance and depression could be correlated (3).
Several other factors could also play a role, such as our societal “norms”. People with PCOS have excess androgens which can cause excess facial hair, body hair, and thinning of head hair. This can cause embarrassment and self esteem issues and further impact the depression, stress and anxiety experienced.
Further tests have shown that people with PCOS show increased salivary amylase and cortisol levels; indicating overall higher stress markers in their systems (1). These higher stress markers were found to have a significant affect on a patient’s BMI as well (1).
There seems to be multiple possible causes of the link between PCOS and stress, depression and anxiety. The more we discuss these important aspects of the disease, the more awareness and hopefully research will be done.
PCOS Mental Health Support
What can we do to combat the effects of stress, anxiety and depression with PCOS?
Well, we can do a few things. Stress reduction is crucial to getting our bodies healthy.
I suggest starting with a regular Acupuncture routine. Acupuncture influences your Parasympathetic system; it allows your body to flow into a state of rest. This is oh-SO-important when PCOS is causing the body to constantly fire higher levels of cortisol and thus kick us into that Flight or Fight response.
But don’t just take my word for it. There have been studies done to show the positive effects Acupuncture has on women with PCOS in regards to their depression and anxiety (4).
Having the ability to set aside time for yourself and help find solutions to treating your PCOS is empowering! Along with Acupuncture, Mindfulness is another amazing tool to add to your tool box of stress butt-kicking techniques.
Our own Dr. Alda Ngo is offering an Online 8-week Mindfulness course that teaches you Mindfulness Meditation training. Check out this link for our Guided Mindfulness class.
The way I like to approach treatment of conditions such as PCOS is to access more resources. The more resources you are able to have, the better equipped you are for empowering yourself and treating your PCOS in the best way that you possibly can.
You may be experiencing higher stress, depression and anxiety as a result of your PCOS, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently. There are several tools we can add to get you feeling healthy and empowered!
To see how we can support you, contact us to book a free 15-minute phone consultation.
Photo: Aline + Celia