Ask a woman with PCOS what her gynaecologist talks the most about and chances are you will hear weight loss, oral contraceptives and acne treatments the most. Yes, dealing with stubborn acne, unwanted hair growth and weight that refuses to go away is difficult. But mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. Depression and anxiety are common in women with PCOS, but are often overlooked and therefore left untreated.
TC46 connected with Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Dr Astha Jain Mathur of Motherhood Hospitals, Indore to know more about how PCOS affects emotional health. Here, she explains the correlation between the condition and body image issues, the importance of mental well-being and shares strategies to cope with it all.
1. Physical and psychological effects of PCOS affect mental and emotional health
PCOS can affect mentally as well emotionally by showing symptoms such as fertility issues, changes in weight, physical or psychological changes, hair loss, acne, excess hair growth, mood, stress, lifestyle, body image, and more. This can lead to depression and anxiety if the cause is not known.
2. Delayed PCOS diagnosis increases the chances of mental health issues
Depression and anxiety are the most common reactions faced by women diagnosed with PCOS. It can impact the mental wellbeing of women as it is seen that the longer it takes to diagnose PCOS, the more are the chances of depression or anxiety. Depression can negatively impact women and their lifestyles. It can bring out negative changes in their day-to-day activities and it becomes difficult to lead a normal life. Anxiety, on the other hand, can lead to nervousness, fear, or worry of something serious that has happened to them and can lead to a stressful life.
3. Stress and body image issues that come along with PCOS affect mental health
Stress and body image issues can have a negative impact on mental health. Body image is the most important part as it defines who you are. Hence, any changes in appearance, irregular periods, difficulty in getting pregnant, might bring discomfort and negative feelings within patients. It may hamper their self-confidence and disrupt their lifestyle. On the other hand, stress may lead to anxiety, depression, and other symptoms.
4. The imbalance of hormones contributes to the majority of PCOS symptoms, physical and psychological
Due to the abnormality of hormones, PCOS is a major contributor to mental health issues in women. Testosterone, which is present in abnormally high levels in women with PCOS, causes physical problems such as male pattern hair growth, acne, thinning or loss of scalp hair, oily skin, and psychological problems such as irritability, aggressive behaviour, and depression.
These symptoms are seen in women with PCOS and are less likely visible in women who do not have PCOS belonging to the same age. Those women who do not prioritize their health may also face problems such as sleep deprivation, low self-esteem, frustration, and even suicidal thoughts. These are closely linked with the imbalance of hormones.
5. Mood swings can be dealt with easily with the help of your gynaecologist
The hormonal fluctuations that women with PCOS experience are most likely to cause mood swings or emotional instability, which could be a symptom of depression. PCOS has psychological and social implications, which can be sorted out by consulting their gynaecologist and taking prompt treatment.
6. Hormonal treatment for PCOS can help with managing mood swings
Birth control medications, such as an oral contraceptive pill or a hormonal treatment, can help in the management of irregular periods caused by PCOS. This, in a way, can help to overcome PCOS and the symptoms related to it.
10 Expert Tips To Cope With Mood Swings, Stress, Body Image Issues, Anxiety, Depression, And Other Mental Wellbeing Issues
1. Engage Yourself In Regular Physical Activity
Physical activity and exercise on a regular basis can help reduce anxiety and improve mood such as dance or moderate exercises daily for 30 minutes.
2. Get Adequate Sleep
Make a fixed routine for your sleep by sleeping and waking up at a fixed time every day. It’s important to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
3. Consume Nutritious Foods
Choose a diet that is well-balanced. Limit your intake of junk food and refined sugar. Caffeine should be consumed in moderation because it can intensify stress and anxiety.
4. Maintain Your Regular Routine
Maintaining a consistent schedule is critical for your mental health. Along with the bedtime routine, maintain consistent times for meals, work, exercise, bathing and dressing.
5. Concentrate On Positive Thoughts
Instead of dwelling on how bad you feel, choose to focus on the good things in your life. Keep a positive attitude, work to accept changes as they occur, and try to keep problems in perspective.
Make time for yourself. Even a few minutes of silence can be rejuvenating, helping to calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation are all beneficial practices for many people.
7. Set Up Goals To Achieve
Each day, set reasonable goals for yourself and outline the steps you will take to achieve those goals. Give yourself credit for every small step in the right direction.
8. Constrain Your Screen Time
Turn off electronic devices preferably 30 minutes before bedtime. Make efforts to spend less time in front of a screen and also watch shows that bring positivity instead of spending more time watching news channels which might be disturbing.
9. Keep Yourself Engaged
A distraction can help you break the cycle of negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety and depression. So, engage yourself in whatever you find interesting.
10. Spend Time With Nature
Spending time outside in nature is beneficial to both the body and the mind. It alleviates feelings of anxiety, stress, and worry. Natural beauty distracts us from problems and simply makes us feel better.
Busting PCOS & Mental Health Myths With Facts
Myth 1: PCOS can cause irregular periods.
Fact: No, irregular periods can be caused by a variety of factors, one of which is PCOS. If your cycle is less than 22 days or more than 34 days long on a regular basis, it is best to consult a gynaecologist rather than speculating and self-diagnosing.
Myth 2: PCOS can be controlled by birth control pills.
Fact: Each woman with this condition has a unique effect on her body. For some, it may be facial hair growth, while for others, it may be hair loss or acne. This also means that not every woman with PCOS requires a birth control pill to control her condition.
Myth 3: Every woman experiences unwanted facial hair growth.
Fact: Hirsutism, or abnormal hair growth in women, is a common symptom of PCOS. Women with PCOS may develop unwanted facial hair on their upper lip, chin, or chest because of an excess of androgens. However, not every woman will experience this symptom.
Myth 4: PCOS causes infertility.
Fact: Infertility is frequently caused by PCOS. The hormonal issue interferes with the ovary’s ability to release an egg that can potentially be fertilized for pregnancy. However, you can still become pregnant, either naturally or following fertility treatments such as follicle-stimulating drugs.