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PCOS And Depression: Causes & Tips To Overcome The Symptoms

Sep 24, 2017

Depression seems to be a common link that keeps raising its head within women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS.) There are millions of women in the world who suffer from PCOS, so don’t feel you are alone out there. Read on if you are looking to overcome this hidden and sneaky symptom naturally without relying on anti-depressants or other kinds of pills.

PCOS And Depression: How Serious Is It?

Along with acne, excess hair growth and weight gain, women with PCOS are at greater risk of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Approximately 34% of women with PCOS have depression compared to 7% of women in the general population and around 45% have anxiety, compared to only 18% of the general population.  Studies show there is a strong link between excess androgen, insulin resistance, and PCOS depression. Women who suffer the symptoms of androgen excess, which is a symptom of PCOS, are more likely to struggle with depression than women without PCOS. Several women with PCOS score low on vitality, social function, emotional role function and mental health too.

Women with PCOS can suffer from different kinds of depression. The top three are:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Major depressive disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a strain of depression that occurs during winter or even monsoons with a decrease in sunlight and causes periodic depression. Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression that can last for months and can occur alongside other forms of depression. Lastly, major depressive disorder normally lasts for weeks causing individuals to have a difficult time functioning. This issue can occur as both a one-time problem and a recurring illness.

Dysthymia is a chronic type of depression that can last for months and can occur alongside other forms of depression. Lastly, major depressive disorder normally lasts for weeks causing individuals to have a difficult time functioning. This issue can occur as both a one-time problem and a recurring illness.

Lastly, major depressive disorder normally lasts for weeks causing individuals to have a difficult time functioning. This issue can occur as both a one-time problem and a recurring illness.

Can Negative Body Image Cause PCOS Depression?

In the world of social media, everyone is obsessed with how they look. And with the advent of healthy eating, people are even fixated about how fit they are. With PCOS, one of the major effects is infertility which can be a blow to a woman’s mind. Also, due to the other symptoms like acne and excessive body weight gain, women who suffer from PCOS can succumb to depression much easier than others. These symptoms may reduce self-confidence and create depressive symptoms in women with PCOS. In addition, changes in hormonal levels lead to anxiety. Depressive symptoms are a secondary reflection of these changes.

Symptoms of PCOS Depression

Most of us would recognize the known and classic signs of depression, which are sudden sadness and hopelessness. But what if you just started getting stomachaches or were suddenly very short-tempered? Are these symptoms too? A number of women are reluctant to consider their symptoms as they may equate it with weakness. However, ignoring these symptoms is not the right thing; treating them is your only way out! Here are few symptoms of PCOS depression that you can catch early on and treat it right!

  • More sensitivity to physical pain
  • Getting angry quicker than usual
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Neglecting physical wellbeing and appearance
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic stress
  • Fear of social situations

Tips For Getting PCOS Depression Under Control

A healthy lifestyle, complete with a nutritious diet, plentiful exercise, and targeted nutrition can help you bring your PCOS mental health symptoms under control.

pcos and depression
Tips For Getting PCOS Depression Under Control
  • Well-Balanced Diet – A well-balanced diet will help regulate your insulin and blood sugar levels that will keep the condition from worsening. By eating a diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates and sugar, you can keep your symptoms of PCOS under control.
  • Regular Exercise – By losing weight and keeping their bodies in shape, women who suffer from PCOS and depression can help counteract high cholesterol and blood pressure. Excercise also helps in keeping their hormone levels more stable. Aim for 30 to 40 minutes, three to five times a week, of aerobic exercise such as walking, running, cycling or using a cross-trainer. A rise in body temperature releases chemicals that boost mood. Also, a fit body leads to a positive body image that can help immensely in PCOS and depression.
  • Fish Oil Supplements – An adequate level of EPA and DHA fatty acids are necessary for optimal brain function. Depressed people who suffer from PCOS tend to have lower levels of Omega 3 fats. Omega 3 in fish oil helps to relieve PCOS depression.
  • Coconut Oil – Consumption of one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil every day will help vastly in regulating blood sugar levels and insulin secretion, which in turn will help with PCOS depression. Unsweetened coconut is chock-full of medium-chain triglycerides, fats that keep your brain healthy and fuel better moods
  • Vitamin D – A healthy dose of vitamin sunshine is extremely important to insulin sensitivity and mood. Also, brighter skies mean less changes of seasonal affective disorder creeping in!
  • Adequate Sleep – Getting enough shut-eye can dramatically help lower your depression levels. Try to set a pattern by sleeping and waking up at the same time every time.
  • Serotonin Enhancing Diet – Many anti-depressants act by preventing the reuptake of serotonin by receptors in the brain, thereby increasing serotonin levels. But you can increase your brain’s serotonin levels by eating foods that boost your serotonin levels naturally by eating Omega 3 rich foods like walnuts, spinach, salmon, and flaxseeds.
  • Timely Meals – Weight gain is a very common issue with women suffering from PCOS and even depression. Avoid skipping meals as keeping your blood sugar stable reduces mood swings, in turn keeping your depression in check.
  • Saffron – Who doesn’t love this beauty herb? Saffron increases the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain reducing symptoms of depression. It’s easily available and can be consumed effortlessly.
  • Yoga – Practicing yoga reduces stress, hostility, anxiety, and depression, and improves energy, sleep quality, and well-being.
  • Honey –It has beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol that reduce inflammation, keep your brain healthy and ward off depression. Honey also has a less dramatic impact on your blood-sugar levels than normal white sugar, so you need not worry about the weight gain that PCOS brings.
  • Antioxidants Rich Food – Our bodies normally make molecules called free radicals, but these can lead to cell damage which puts your brain at risk. Foods enriched with beta-carotene like apricots, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato and vitamin C foods like blueberries, oranges, peppers, strawberries, tomato help immensely to control and keep the free radicals in check.
  • Spending Time With Loved Ones – Regular social contact with friends and family helps boost self-confidence. It will also encourage you to make other positive changes in life that will help lift depression. Examples of these changes include taking a cooking class together or even something simple as going for a jog together.
  • Treating Yourself –  Treat yourself to a good movie or a nice dinner when you are feeling low or have had a bad week at work. Dark chocolate is another instant treat. It is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants—than some fruit juices. And since its dark chocolate, you don’t need to worry about your waistlines as long as you don’t over-indulge!

To conclude, you can control depression caused by PCOS provided you make some lifestyle changes. Taking care of your mental health will help you deal with your PCOS in a much more positive way.

Apoorva Pagar
Apoorva is a health & well being enthusiast who believes in eating fresh and eating right. She's an obsessive dancer who also enjoys an occasional yoga and boot-camp class. She is willing to spend hours hunting down a healthy but delicious smoothie!