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Can PCOS Affect Mental Health?

Written by: Vivienne Wang, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Vivienne Wang

PCOS can affect mental health. While the physical symptoms of PCOS are well-documented and widely discussed, less attention is given to the potential mental health implications of this condition. We'll explore how mental health and PCOS are closely connected.

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Understanding PCOS

It's essential to understand what PCOS entails. Women with PCOS produce a high amount of male hormones (androgens) and estrogen, resulting in low progesterone. The imbalanced hormones can lead to skipped menstrual periods and difficulty conceiving.

Because of the hormone imbalance, hair growth on the face and body, baldness, acne, and weight gain are common in PCOS. It may also cause problems with the heart and blood vessels.

Most times, women with PCOS will have many small cysts on their ovaries, hence the name polycystic ovary syndrome. These are results of eggs reaching maturity but not releasing.

The link between mental health And PCOS

Research has shown a significant link between mental health disorders and women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS lead to physical changes and also emotional ones.

Women with PCOS are more likely than other women to have anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. The reasons for these increased risks are not entirely understood but are believed to be due in part to the hormonal imbalances inherent in PCOS as well as the stress of dealing with chronic illness.

Depression and anxiety in women with PCOS

Depression and anxiety are common in women with PCOS. Studies show that women with PCOS are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety. The reasons for this are multifaceted.

The physical symptoms of PCOS, such as weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth, can negatively impact a woman's self-esteem and body image, leading to feelings of depression.

Additionally, these hormonal imbalances that are associated with PCOS can directly affect mood and emotional well-being.

Anxiety in women with PCOS may be related to the stress of managing the condition, including dealing with symptoms, undergoing medical treatments, and coping with fertility issues. The uncertainty around menstrual cycles and potential fertility problems can also lead to heightened anxiety levels.

Eating disorders and PCOS

Research has also indicated a link between eating disorders and PCOS. Women with this condition are more likely to have disordered eating behaviors or full-blown eating disorders like binge eating, bulimia or anorexia nervosa. The nutrition depletion followed by the disordered eating behaviors will exacerbate PCOS symptoms even further.

The relationship between these two conditions is complex. Some studies suggest that insulin resistance—a common symptom of PCOS—may increase cravings for carbohydrates and lead to binge eating. On the other hand, the body image issues that often accompany PCOS may contribute to restrictive eating behaviors.

Managing mental health with PCOS

Given the strong link between mental health and PCOS, it's crucial for women diagnosed with this condition to prioritize their emotional well-being alongside their physical health.

Psychotherapy or counseling can be beneficial for managing depression or anxiety associated with PCOS. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, has been shown to be effective in treating these conditions.

Regular exercise is another essential component of mental health management. Exercise helps regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Additionally, it aids in managing some physical symptoms of PCOS, like weight gain.

PCOS is not just a physical health issue—it affects mental health as well. Understanding this connection is crucial for any woman living with this condition. By addressing both physical symptoms and emotional well-being, women with PCOS can lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health issues related to PCOS, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, you're not alone in this journey.

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Vivienne Wang Brainz Magazine

Vivienne Wang, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Vivienne Wang is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) specializing in PCOS, fertility, pregnancy, and eating disorders. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Vivienne works with clients worldwide via Telehealth. She is registered with Dietitian Australia, a Certified Fertility and Prenatal Dietitian through the Early Life Nutrition Alliance, and credentialed by the Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders. Her own experience with irregular periods, weight gain, and an eventual PCOS diagnosis as a teen led her to learn to manage her symptoms with lifestyle changes and nutrition. Her experiences are the driving force behind her desire to educate and help women with similar backgrounds. You can learn more about Vivienne’s custom nutritional approach and connect with her directly as your potential Pregnancy Nutritionist & Fertility Dietitian on her website.



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