PCOS & Mental Health: Where's The Link?
Most of the time when speaking about PCOS you are hearing talk about the physical aspects of PCOS but, you cannot ignore the mental and emotional side of having this condition.
Women with PCOS are about 3 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than women without PCOS. Approximately 34% of women with PCOS have depression compared to 7% of women in the general population and around 45% have anxiety, compared to only 18% of the general population.
PCOS and Depression
The numbers around PCOS and depression are scary.
👉 Women with PCOS are 3x more likely to suffer from depression compared to women without PCOS
👉 34% of women with PCOS have depression
👉 Women with PCOS are 7x more likely to commit suicide compared to women without PCOS
Researchers and experts believe that a combination of physical issues such as insulin resistance, stress, and inflammation combined with living with PCOS symptoms are part of the cause of such high depression rates among women with PCOS.
PCOS and Anxiety
Anxiety is a symptom of PCOS that isn't as spoken about as some of the physical symptoms many women with PCOS are going through on a daily basis. Women with PCOS are 3x more likely to suffer from anxiety compared to women without PCOS. That's because 38% of women with PCOS report to be dealing with anxiety.
Studies note that infertility and hair loss (alopecia) are two symptoms of PCOS associated with anxiety. Hair growth (hirsutism) is more associated with depression. While the exact link between PCOS and anxiety is unknown. Keys to understanding the relationship lie in what anxiety actually is.
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. PCOS is rooted in physical (metabolic stress).
Because there's a huge lack of education and understanding of PCOS, even by medical experts, many women don't have the answers to their PCOS they need. This can lead to feelings of an uncertain future. It's most likely a combination of factors that create this anxiety problem in PCOS:
1️⃣ Social: How PCOS can impact your relationships
2️⃣ Mental: How living with the symptoms of PCOS can impact you psychologically.
3️⃣ Biological: The hormonal and brain chemistry changes that PCOS can create.
The Link Between PCOS & Mental Health Issues
The exact link between PCOS and poor mental well-being is still unclear but, there are currently two trains of thought as to why PCOS triggers such alarming mental health numbers.
1️⃣ PCOS is physically affecting your brain chemistry:
It's incredible how connected your entire body is. We know that hormone levels can directly impact neurotransmitter (brain chemical) levels.
The brain chemicals are responsible for the regulation of motivation, concentration, learning, memory, happiness, and mood.
A study from the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found high testosterone levels had a significant effect on a brain region called the amygdala, involved in the regulation of emotion and behavior.
2️⃣ Having PCOS takes an emotional toll on your mental health:
The second train of thought is that having a condition like PCOS can take a huge emotional toll on the woman who has it. Symptoms of PCOS such as fertility issues, unwanted hair growth, hair loss, acne, weight gain etc. can have an incredibly draining toll.
These symptoms can hit you at the heart of who you are, they can take away all of your confidence, self-belief, self-esteem, and hope for a bright future.
In reality, poor mental health in women with PCOS is likely going to be from a combination of the two factors. It's undeniable the physical connection between hormonal imbalances, physical health, and mental health.
It's also 100% understandable how living with a condition that can affect you so deeply like PCOS, combined with a lack of support by your medical expert, friends or family can lead to poor mental health.
Therefore, combining a strategy to help balance your hormones which also helps you to start taking control of your PCOS and thus, giving you hope for your future will be the most effective plan to improve your PCOS and mental well-being.
In the last few years, society has started realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health. For women with PCOS, I think this is especially true.
Never give up x
About Drew Baird:
Drew Baird is a qualified Personal Trainer, PCOS expert, who also has qualifications in sports nutrition and psychology. Drew takes a scientific approach to PCOS by combining the latest clinical research with empirical evidence from working with his PCOS clients. He is the owner of Drew Baird Fitness and Healthy PCOS.
Other articles you will enjoy.
Excess facial and body hair in PCOS is usually the result of excess androgens in your body. Androgens are male sex hormones, such as testosterone, that are present in both...
Fatigue, tiredness, and exhaustion are common symptoms of PCOS. What’s even worse than constantly feeling tired is when you’re tired of constantly feeling tired. So, what’s the course of fatigue...
PCOS is bloody confusing and it gets even more confusing when you see that there are individual types or variations of PCOS. Let’s have a look at the four types of PCOS.
“You should lose weight for your PCOS” is by far the single most common piece of advice given to women with PCOS. Unfortunately, it’s never followed up with “and here’s...
Exercise is one of those behaviors that can have a hugely positive influence on your PCOS. So, what are the most beneficial exercise types for PCOS?
70% of women with PCOS will have a varying degree of insulin resistance. A condition where the cells of your body no longer respond to the hormone, insulin, as normal. Insulin...
Supplements are part of the 5 Seeds PCOS lifestyle framework for taking control of your PCOS. Being smart with your supplementation will help you to control PCOS symptoms such as weight...
22.5% of women with PCOS also have hypothyroidism. PCOS and hypothyroidism are two of the most common endocrine (hormonal) disorders among females.
To understand why women with PCOS can often lack motivation we must first understand what motivation actually is. Motivation is the feeling of wanting something (moving towards) or, wanting to avoid...
One of the most unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms of PCOS is hirsutism or excess hair growth. Here's how to reduce hair growth in PCOS.
Women with PCOS are about 3 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than women without PCOS. Approximately 34% of women with PCOS have depression compared to 7% of...
Women with PCOS are 19x more likely to have a magnesium deficiency compared to women without PCOS. Low magnesium levels are associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke,...
It would be easy to view PCOS as simply a condition of the ovaries that negatively impacts fertility but, if you’ve been reading any of my Facebook content you know...
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex condition that the more you learn about the more questions you have about it. In this article, I want to deep dive into...