Get Help With Your Depression and Other Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to have anxiety and depression. While PCOS and depression often occur together, certain lifestyle changes can help you to a great extent.
Depression is one of the most common mental health concerns these days, and it requires medical care and attention just like any other health issue. However, PCOS depression and anxiety can actually be a symptom of underlying health issues.
Here’s all you need to know about PCOS depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect your mood and your ability to function in your day-to-day life. It can induce a constant dull feeling that can cause difficulty in thinking, concentrating, eating, sleeping, and performing routine activities.
In severe cases, it might induce feelings of wanting to give up and cause self-harm — even suicide.
However, effective remedies and treatments exist that can help manage depression and its symptoms to a great extent.
What Are the Symptoms?
Depression can be identified by its hallmark signs, such as hopelessness and sadness along with low energy levels and a loss of interest in normal day-to-day activities. In some cases, it can extend to aches and pains in the body along with mood swings that may seem to have no cause. Acknowledging the symptoms of depression is the first step to finding a cure.
Here are a few signs and symptoms that you must be vigilant about:
- Panic attacks
- Easily losing temper
- Difficulty in concentration
- Mood swings
- Neglecting physical well-being and appearance
- Chronic stress
- Fear of social situations
- Lack of motivation
Does PCOS Cause Depression?
Although women with PCOS are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, researchers are not sure why the two often occur together. Several research-based hypotheses suggest that PCOS depression can be a result of underlying conditions such as insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation, and stress.
Insulin resistance itself is associated with hormonal imbalances, which can play a significant role in causing depression. Moreover, it comes with weight gain and physical changes in most cases. Some women may feel burdened coping with their PCOS symptoms, thus causing depression. Moreover, PCOS symptoms like acne, hair loss, hirsutism, and other physical changes can result in higher levels of stress because of how they can affect one’s appearance, and stress is often closely related to depression.
Things You May Feel Depressed About
Women with PCOS are often troubled by their symptoms, which can be one of the primary causes of PCOS-related depression. While PCOS mood swings can be quite taxing to cope with, living with the other physical symptoms of PCOS greatly affects the quality of life.
Women with PCOS often compare themselves to women who do not have PCOS, making them feel bad about themselves because they have to adapt to various lifestyle changes to manage the condition. Having to do things because of an underlying condition that can’t be cured can be very overwhelming and thus lead to depression.
The only way to overcome depression is to look at it as a condition that needs medical assistance, and if you have been diagnosed with PCOS or are facing any PCOS symptoms, a PCOS expert may be able to help.
Do You Have Low Levels of Serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and also acts as a hormone. It plays an important role in vital functions such as your mood, digestion, wound healing, bone health, sleep, and sexual health. This hormone is responsible for regulating your mood and is also known as the body’s natural feel-good hormone.
When your body has normal levels of serotonin, you tend to feel more focused, calm, emotionally stable, and happy. However, lower serotonin levels are closely associated with anxiety and depression. Having low levels of serotonin is not on its own enough to cause anxiety or depression, but it is a contributing factor.
Signs that indicate you have low serotonin levels:
- Changes in sleep cycle
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in mood
- Issues with memory or learning
Understanding Your Hormones
Out of the several hormones our bodies produce, Progesterone, Oestrogen, Serotonin, Testosterone, and Thyroid are known to cause depressive disorders when they go out of proportion.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland, is responsible for producing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Problems occur when the thyroid produces too much or too little of these hormones, and this dysfunction is directly linked to mood disorders, depression being the most common of all. Oestrogen, likewise, also plays a role in producing serotonin and dopamine, which when hampered can cause you to feel low and depressed.
Progesterone, also known as the relaxing hormone, helps keep you calm and relaxed. Insufficient levels of progesterone not only lead to depression but can also cause anxiety disorders as well as brain fog, sleepless nights, and irritability.
Lower levels of testosterone also contribute to depressive feelings and might hamper concentration. It can further cause fatigue and induce feelings of demotivation.
The Impact of Hormonal Imbalance
An imbalance in hormones can greatly impact your daily functioning, causing both physical and mental disorders.
Several studies have also suggested significant links between hormonal imbalances and PCOS depression and anxiety. If not catered to in time, your condition can get worse if the hormonal imbalance extends over a long period of time.
To make sure whether hormonal imbalances are the cause of your condition, your primary health care provider will test you for hormones like testosterone, insulin, progesterone, thyroid, and other hormones based on your symptoms.
Emotional vs. Physical Health
Your emotional health is impacted by a number of factors including your diet, sleep cycle, stress levels, major life events and even underlying health conditions. It can take years before women receive proper diagnosis for PCOS. Women can react differently and generate a range of emotions to the diagnosis including anger, frustration, sadness and fear. The physical changes of PCOS such as weight gain, acne, excess facial hair, scalp hair loss can all add to body image issues, anxiety and depression. So treating PCOS is not only about treating the physical symptoms, taking care of your mental health and seeking help for mood disorders such as depression is equally important.
Depression is so much more than just feeling sad. Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that can affect your quality of life. Many people do not realize they are suffering from depression until they seek professional help.
To make a diagnosis of clinical depression, your doctor can use a combination of the following methods.
Medical and physical examination: Your doctor will ask you a variety of questions based on your symptoms and family history. Sometimes depression can also be associated with a condition (such as PCOS), so it is important to understand the origin of the problem.
Lab tests: You might also be asked to do lab tests, such as thyroid or complete blood count tests, to help determine the root cause of your symptoms.
Psychiatric evaluation: Your doctor may ask you to describe your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. This is often done by filling out a questionnaire.
Depression is a serious condition, but it can be treated. Most people benefit from psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both. The following are some of the most common treatments available.
Taking care of your physical health can help you be in a better position to take care of your mental health too. Spending time with the people you love and care about can help you feel better and reduce depressive feelings. Eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and getting good sleep can also help improve your quality of life.
This involves talking to a mental health professional about your symptoms and problems. Your therapist understands where your emotions are coming from and helps you develop coping skills. Psychotherapy or talk therapy can be quite beneficial for patients with mild symptoms of depression.
Prescription antidepressants help alter brain chemistry and rectify depression-inducing hormonal imbalances. It is important to note that it may take a few weeks for them to have an effect, and consumption of antidepressants must be carefully monitored to avoid possible side effects.
Brain stimulation therapy
Brain stimulation is used in severe cases of psychosis and depression. The types of brain stimulation include vagus nerve stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive therapy.
Ayurveda and Natural Remedies
Herbs like ashwagandha, brahmi, and jatamansi are known to help with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. They are renowned for their antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties and can also help with sleep issues in some cases. Chamomile and jasmine are also associated with relaxation and anti-depressant properties.
A healthy diet rich in vitamin B and magnesium along with other vital nutrients can help in mild cases of depression.
Regular exercise, yoga, and especially meditation can help significantly in eliminating negative thoughts. Working out helps the body to produce hormones that are responsible for keeping your mind free from depressive thoughts.
Another effective remedy can be spending time in nature. Many people benefit from nature therapy, but the right treatment for your depression can only be found after gaining an understanding of your individual condition.
How to Deal With Your Depression
The first step to dealing with depression is acknowledging it and looking at it as a condition that requires help.
Depression is a battle that you don’t have to fight alone. Talking about your feelings and working on your coping skills can help you manage your symptoms better. Along with lifestyle changes and opting for remedies like working out regularly, meditating, and eating right, you should not hesitate to consult a mental health expert to help you understand your treatment options. The longer you wait to seek help, the more likely you are to notice an increase in your symptoms.
How to Improve Your Mental Health
Improving your mental health can lead to a better life. Without taking care of your mental health, it can be difficult to sustain the lifestyle changes that are an important component of PCOS treatment. Having said that, some people with mood disorders can find it difficult to make these lifestyle changes and stick to it. In such cases, seeing a therapist or counsellor can help you make small changes to your lifestyle and help you better cope with your symptoms.
While depression does require medical intervention in some cases, you are the best person when it comes to engaging in self-care, which is the process of following healthier habits in your daily routine. You can work on improving your mental health in the following ways.
Learn new skills: This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve mental health. When we indulge in learning new things, it creates a sense of satisfaction in our minds, which can boost our mental health.
Help people around you: Helping those in need not only brings positivity but also leads to improvement in mental calmness and satisfaction. Lending a helping hand can be a great way of uplifting your mood and improving your mental health.
Be physically active: Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. It is also found to alleviate issues related to low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
Be around people who support you: Making plans with supportive family members and/or friends or doing activities where you can meet new people, such as a class, support group, or social events can help improve your overall sense of well-being.
Learn to manage stress: Stress in itself can affect many areas of your health like your immunity, heart health, cause diabetes, obesity and your mental health too. Chronic stress can contribute to depression and/or make it worse. Learning how to manage stress with a combination of making lifestyle changes and seeking professional help can help in improving your overall quality of life.
Talk to a PCOS Professional
PCOS itself can be quite hard to manage, and when coupled with mood disorders, it can be all the more overwhelming.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or are experiencing any PCOS symptoms, it’s best to seek help from a PCOS expert who will be able to evaluate your condition thoroughly and identify where the depression is coming from.
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