PCOS & Mental Health: Where's The Link?
Feb 3, 2020 By Drew Baird
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 the founder and owner of Drew Baird Fitness and Healthy PCOS. Drew has worked with over 23,800 clients on his online weight loss programs and helped his clients lose over 263,000kgs. He's known for his realistic, no bullshit approach to getting results.