Your mental and emotional health is as important as your physical health, and women with PCOS are more likely to experience issues such as anxiety and depression.
Moreover, certain studies also suggest that the longer it takes for a woman to be diagnosed with PCOS, the more likely she is to be anxious and/or depressed.
Here’s all you need to know about PCOS anxiety and how you can manage itStart PCOS Treatment
Anxiety can be described as an unpleasant feeling of fear, worry, and/or nervousness that something bad is happening or about to happen. For some, these feelings can be constant and extreme and become very distressing. Anxiety can also interfere with one’s day-to-day life by making simple things very overwhelming and stressful, to an extent that treatment may be required.
Anxiety can appear in various ways and with multiple symptoms, however, some of the common symptoms of anxiety are:
Although there are no definitive studies to establish a direct connection between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and anxiety, the relationship between the two can be greatly attributed to the symptoms themselves.
The physical manifestations of PCOS like weight gain, acne, and excess facial hair can affect the emotional health of many women and can manifest as generalised anxiety, social anxiety, and panic attacks. Some women with PCOS also struggle with infertility, which can lead to anticipatory anxiety about whether they will be able to conceive and start a family of their own.
Women with PCOS might also experience anxiety when they compare their lives and bodies to those of women without PCOS. These differences can also lead to feeling persistently anxious and worried. Body image is one of the greatest concerns among women with PCOS and is also one of the primary causes of PCOS-related anxiety.
PCOS stress and anxiety can arise from a number of causes. Having irregular periods can be the beginning of it all, as women tend to get anxious when they notice a delay in their period. Over time, women may fear the possibility of infertility, which adds to the anxious feelings if they begin to wonder whether they’ll ever be able to start a family of their own. Women coming from families where getting married is very important might experience even a greater amount of anxiety, as this question can make it challenging to find the right match for them.
Moreover, the diagnosis of PCOS itself comes with anxiety, because knowing it is a condition that cannot be cured but just managed can be quite overwhelming. Adding to this, symptoms such as facial hair, weight gain, and acne can cause social anxiety, and if they are not taken care of, the anxiety worsens as the symptoms do.
PCOS is characterised by its underlying hormonal imbalances. And this imbalance can also manifest as mood disorders, such as anxiety. Especially imbalances in the level of testosterone, cortisol and thyroid hormones are linked with symptoms of anxiety.
People with increased insulin resistance are more likely to experience PCOS anxiety due to the underlying hormonal imbalances, however, studies to establish a direct connection between PCOS and anxiety are still quite blurred.
The increased levels of androgens in the body (male hormones), especially DHEA may also be major contributors to stress and anxiety.
PCOS women with anxiety issues might also have decreased levels of certain neurotransmitters i.e. the chemicals responsible for sending signals throughout the nervous system and the brain. Studies also suggest that PCOS women are more likely to have lower levels of Serotonin (a chemical messenger associated with positive feelings) which can be a contributing factor to PCOS anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety might not always be apparent. Just because you cannot see those symptoms does not mean you can ignore it. Your overall health is a tandem between your emotional/mental health and your physical health. Any imbalance in either, can affect different areas of your health. In conditions like PCOS, we often focus on physical symptoms but many women don’t realise the effect of PCOS on their mental health too.
The same way you won’t hesitate to speak to a doctor to lose weight, clear acne or address hair loss issues, similarly you should not hesitate to speak to a therapist or a counsellor for any mood disorders or mental health issues.
Anxiety can be quite distressing itself, and you must consult your healthcare provider to understand the causes of your symptoms and how to address them. In some cases, you might need to visit a mental health care specialist who can help diagnose and treat your anxiety.
To diagnose your situation accurately, you might be referred to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who may opt for a psychological evaluation which includes discussing your feelings and actions to identify the causes of your anxiety and suggest the right treatment. In some cases, anxiety can exist with other mental health problems such as depression, which would require a different approach to be diagnosed and treated.
Psychotherapy and medication are the two most common and effective treatments for dealing with anxiety disorders. A combination of both is believed to benefit the most. However, it may take some trial and error to find the best treatment methods for you, as anxiety is quite subjective to your individual causes and symptoms.
Also known as psychological counselling and talk therapy, psychotherapy involves working with your therapist to help reduce your symptoms. If your anxiety is not at a severe stage, talk therapy itself can prove to be quite effective. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for treating anxiety disorders. It mainly focuses on developing certain emotional skills to help reduce and eliminate your symptoms, gradually helping you to get back to the activities and routines you have been avoiding due to anxiety.
In some cases, your CBT may also include exposure therapy, in which you would be made to encounter your anxiety triggers slowly and steadily. This will help build the confidence to face and manage triggering situations and thoughts.
Medication may be prescribed to help relieve your symptoms and improve your condition depending on whether you have any underlying physical causes of anxiety. Antidepressants can help greatly, and you may also be prescribed anti-anxiety medicines.
Certain herbs like yashtimadhu, ashwagandha, mandukaparni, jatamansi, and brahmi are known to help reduce anxiety and to help calm the body and the mind.
Certain lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly and getting good sleep, are the best natural remedies to help reduce anxiety. Deep-breathing exercises can significantly help in reducing feelings of anxiousness.
Avoiding procrastination is one of the best ways to keep anxiety away, because people with anxiety tend to procrastinate to avoid stressful tasks, leading to a last-minute rush which spikes up anxiety levels.
Cannabidiol oil, herbal teas, and herbal supplements can help in managing your anxiety too, however, there is no significant research that guarantees the latter.
Calming your anxiety can be quite challenging, but certain exercises and methods can help to a great extent.
Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help calm your mind and eliminate anxiousness. These methods help calm the mind and can relieve your anxiousness. Mindful meditation is highly recommended for anxiety patients as it involves focusing on one’s innermost thoughts and feelings, thus helping you realise the emotional causes of your anxiety and deal with them calmly without letting anxiety kick in.
Exercising is another great way of calming your anxiety because of two reasons- firstly, it helps reduce stress hormones and secondly, as you focus on a particular exercise or task, it helps distract your mind from negative thoughts and triggers.
Sleep plays a very important role in anxiety and lack of sleep can encourage your symptoms to a great extent. It is advised to get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Moreover, patients who work on their sleeping patterns experience significant changes in their symptoms.
Taking care of your overall mental health is very important, especially for people with anxiety issues. Here are some tips you can follow to help improve your mental health
Try to have an optimistic approach
Adapting to a positive way of thinking is one of the best ways to improve your mental health and avoid stress and anxiety. This does not mean that you should not feel negative emotions like anger, hurt, and worry, but it is crucial to not let these feelings take over.
Be very careful of what you feed your mind. If you feel that a particular series you’re watching or a book that you’re reading is causing you stress, it’s best that you switch to something with a positive outlook that makes you feel calm and happy. Also, do your best not to become preoccupied with the thoughts of past incidents. Focus on the future instead, and think about ways to make your future something you look forward to.
A balanced diet, regular workouts, and sufficient sleep are the best ways to develop a positive, healthy mindset. These lifestyle changes can also increase the production of happy hormones in the body, thus helping you eliminate anxiety to a great extent.
Communicate about your feelings
It is absolutely okay to talk about how you feel and express your emotional distress. Talking is one of the best ways to relieve yourself of the emotions and worries that are causing anxiety. Keeping your emotions locked up inside you can lead to greater turmoil and cause you to feel extremely anxious, even about things that could be handled very easily just by talking.
Anxiety could be linked to many other things, including an underlying health condition like PCOS. Having anxiety on its own does not mean you have PCOS. Look for other symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, acne, or excess facial/body hair. If you are not sure whether your anxiety is related to PCOS, speak to a healthcare professional who can help you evaluate the root cause of your symptoms.
The first step to treating anxiety is accepting that you may have a problem. Many people with anxiety issues often refrain from communicating about their feelings, causing them to feel more misunderstood and troubled.
You can begin by taking Veera’s online assessment, which is specially designed to help you identify and address your physical and mental concerns. Our team of experts includes trained and certified mental healthcare experts to help you identify and overcome the factors that hamper your mental health.
It is okay to feel blue, and it is okay to seek help. We’re here for you — just a click away!
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