Women's Wellness 3 MIN READ 295 VIEWS February 18, 2021

How PCOS Affects Your Mental Health

Written By Jyoti Jaswal

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in women who are at childbearing age. Along with irregular periods, it brings several other issues like infertility, weight gain, increase in body weight, diabetes and others. 

For many women, PCOS can be an emotional rollercoaster because of body image issues or even being unable to have children. A study published in the Journal of Behavioural Health Services and Research stated that complications caused by PCOS could lead to severe mental health issues in women. 

How is PCOS Related To Mental Health? 

The scientific reason for mood swings or mental health issues related to PCOS is still being explored. However, research has confirmed that women with PCOS are at thrice the risk of developing conditions like aggressive behaviour, depression or anxiety. Whether it is due to the hormonal imbalance or the symptoms caused by PCOS are still unclear. Some suggest that it could even be a combination of several factors that lead to significant mental health issues in women with PCOS. 

Symptoms Likely to Cause Mental Health Issues 

The most common PCOS symptoms are hirsutism which means unwanted body hair, infertility and an increase in body weight. Women are known to develop severe anxiety or depression due to their inability to become pregnant, the challenges of losing weight and facial hair. According to a few individuals with PCOS, these issues make them feel like they have no control over their body or health, making the experience an emotional roller coaster. 

Hormonal Issues and Mental Health 

Individuals with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance. This leads to higher levels of insulin in the bloodstream. Research shows a clear association with an increased risk of developing depression and higher insulin resistance. 

The levels of male hormones called androgens are also higher in the case of PCOS. These hormones are known to trigger anxiety and aggressive behaviour in some cases. Lastly, neurotransmitters like serotonin are lower in individuals with PCOS, leading to mood swings, depression and even anxiety. 

Common Mental Health Issues in Women with PCOS

Women with PCOS commonly suffer from issues like: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Body Image issues 
  • Extreme mood swings 
  • Increased aggressive behaviour 

Managing Mental Health if You Have PCOS

Seeking professional help is the first step to managing the mental health issues associated with PCOS. There are different options available to you: 

  • Medication: In case of severe issues like anxiety or depression, your physician may prescribe anti-depression or anxiety medication. However, in some cases, medication to manage the hormonal imbalance can alleviate most mental health symptoms prevalent in women with PCOS. Medicines to improve insulin uptake by the body are also known to be highly beneficial. 
  • Supplements: Certain supplements have been beneficial in reducing mood swings and other issues. Vitamin D supplements are most helpful in curbing any emotional distress caused in women who have PCOS. 
  • Alternative therapy: Other therapeutic measures like acupuncture can help speed up the process of recovery. Seed cycling is another natural therapy that has been used for ages. Consume powdered pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds from the first day of your period until your ovulation begins. Then consume powdered sesame seeds and sunflower seeds until the next period. They provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that regularise hormones and eventually improve your mental health. 
  • Managing the symptoms: Facial hair or increased body weight are two widespread symptoms that lead to women’s mental health issues with PCOS. Based on their cultural background, the intensity of these symptoms may vary. Facial hair removal or weight loss can help restore self-confidence and positive feelings.  
  • A good lifestyle: Eating healthy and regular exercising helps in managing the hormonal balance in the body. It is also known to increase the levels of serotonin and other happy hormones in the body. It is paramount in treating symptoms of conditions like depression.

Unfortunately, mental health issues get usually overlooked because the focus is generally on treating the physical symptoms associated with PCOS. It is highly recommended that women experiencing these symptoms seek professional assistance. 

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