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Can PCOS Cause Emotional Stress?

Getting diagnosed with PCOS can be a difficult journey for some women. It can generate a range of emotions that may be similar to grief or shock. The emotional stress that women with PCOS experience while managing their condition is real but is often overlooked and often left untreated.

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Posted on April 7, 2022 ·

Getting diagnosed with PCOS can be a difficult journey. For some women, the diagnosis can generate a range of emotions that may be similar to grief. The emotional stress that women experience while facing and fighting PCOS is real but is often overlooked during the treatment plan. And so, most of the time, this emotional stress is not treated properly.

PCOS and Emotional Health

There are a number of reasons that can cause emotional stress and affect you mentally such as your lifestyle, self- esteem and body image. Having a chronic disease like PCOS can affect your mental health adversely. Emotional stress occurs when you feel uncertain or feel that you cannot cope with the diagnosis of PCOS. Although everyone experiences some form and level of stress –  chronic or long-term PCOS stress can affect your quality of life. 

Unpleasant and negative feelings can be caused due to a number of reasons if you have PCOS. Did you know that women with PCOS are thrice as likely to get emotionally stressed than people without PCOS? This emotional stress, if not treated timely, can lead to more serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Most studies show that women who experience the symptoms of PCOS, such as increased growth of hair (hirsutism), hair loss (alopecia), acne, and weight changes may feel emotionally distressed, and this can affect their mood negatively. These symptoms are varied and can be confusing to the women especially if the cause of the symptoms is unknown. 

How can PCOS Cause Emotional Stress?

A major part of this stress stems from the way a person feels about their body, also known as body image. As individuals, we all might have a different imagery of how a person should look, and that is heavily based on a number of factors such as how you understand your own body, how you perceive fitness in general, your own body size and personal values. PCOS can affect different parts of your body and cause physical changes, which in turn, influence how you think about your own body. 

Symptoms of PCOS such as weight gain and acne can make women feel conscious about themselves. They may start feeling low and less physically attractive. This is because the symptoms of PCOS may not align with the way we perceive femininity and how women are supposed to be. The frustration of treating these symptoms gradually, over time, can affect what you think about yourself and stress you emotionally.

How can Manage Emotional Stress?

Just like the varied nature of treatments of the physical symptoms of PCOS, there are a wide variety of treatment options for improving mental health too. The treatment journey for each woman, both physically and mentally is different because every woman and her PCOS story is unique. A few women might feel better after a few counselling sessions and stay motivated with what they have imbibed from these sessions, and a few women might choose counselling that is a regular part of their life.

The emotional stress you feel after a diagnosis of PCOS is genuine and very justified, but most importantly, it is how you deal with the symptoms and the acceptance of these symptoms that can make a significant difference in your PCOS journey.

  1. A healthy and active lifestyle is known to improve your physical as well as mental well-being for women with PCOS. This includes a nutritionally rich and healthy diet, more physical activity and exercising, and maintaining a weight.
  2. Small steps in treating the physical symptoms, such as performing some fun activity or even taking a simple walk may help you to give a boost of energy to your mental health.
  3. A healthy and nutritionally rich diet can help you on the longer run to help you deal with any emotional stress. This means following a balanced diet that has good sources of wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.

But, emotional stress, anxiety or depression can complicate this treatment journey. It is difficult to look after yourself, and follow a treatment plan or take healthier decisions for yourself when your mental health is affected. So, it is good to know your feelings and moods to manage your PCOS more effectively. If you feel too overwhelmed with the stress of PCOS, it is recommended that you seek help for it. 

And most importantly – you are not alone on this PCOS journey! In times when you feel lonely or overwhelmed with your symptoms or thoughts, it is good to connect with people you trust or seek professional help. 

The journey of treating PCOS can be a long one, and there can be times when your motivation and determination to keep working towards a healthier lifestyle may seem overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that help is available and you shouldn’t hesitate to speak to a professional when needed. PCOS is complex, but you are stronger than that, and your mind is even stronger with the right kind of support and care.

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed



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