PCOS is a condition that affects your hormones and can cause various physical and mental health symptoms. But treatment can help you maintain your overall well-being.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects people who have ovaries. It is one of the most common endocrine disorders. If you have PCOS, you may experience irregular or infrequent periods, develop cysts on your ovaries or have acne or excessive hair growth.
The causes of PCOS aren’t well-known, but it does involve an imbalance in hormones.
If you experience PCOS, you may also be prone to developing depression. Because PCOS can affect your hormones and your physical appearance, mental health conditions like depression are likely.
There are some treatments available to treat PCOS and the resulting depression.
PCOS can lead to depression, as the symptoms of PCOS can be very unpleasant to deal with. One study showed that
There are various reasons why someone with PCOS may be more prone to depression, such as:
One potential risk factor for depression in individuals with PCOS is the increase of androgens — a group of sex hormones in the body. Research suggests that the increase in androgens can cause:
- hair loss
- weight gain
- excessive hair growth that’s dark and coarse
These hormonal changes can alter your self-image and impact your self-esteem. When your views of yourself change negatively, this may lead to depression.
Irregular menstrual cycle
One of the most common signs of PCOS is irregular menstrual cycles. The imbalance of hormones and increase in androgen hormones can prevent ovulation from occurring, which can prevent you from having a period.
Periods may be irregular, infrequent or absent altogether. The imbalance of hormones and inability to predict your period can be frustrating and contribute to depression.
If you’re experiencing menstrual cycles longer than 35-40 days or skipping your period some months, you should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
The imbalance of hormones that cause PCOS can prevent ovulation and cause infertility.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility. For individuals who want to get pregnant, infertility may lead to depression.
The hormone imbalance associated with PCOS can also affect your metabolism and risk for obesity.
If you have PCOS you’re at increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes, which can also contribute to weight gain and obesity.
The same researchers found that individuals with PCOS are likely to have high rates of depression, anxiety, and negative self-image. They also suggest that mental health challenges can contribute to weight fluctuations.
Treatment of PCOS is complex, as it affects each individual differently. There are also many potential complications and comorbidities of the condition.
As a result, there are various treatment options, from medication, to lifestyle changes, to surgery. With any potential treatment, working with a medical professional to determine which treatment might be right for you is essential.
There’s no definitive cure for PCOS. But treatment options may help reduce or alleviate certain symptoms. When searching for treatment options for PCOS and depression, working with a medical provider you feel comfortable with can improve your outcome.
- eating a healthy diet
- getting adequate sleep
- losing weight
These changes can be challenging to start or maintain if you have a mental health condition like depression. Working with a mental health professional may be necessary to help you approach lifestyle changes and to treat your mental health.
Several medications can be used to help treat PCOS.
- Metformin: This is commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes; but it helps improve insulin resistance in individuals with PCOS
- Inositol: This medication is a dietary supplement that helps regulate insulin in the body. Its effects are still being studied.
- Statins: A class of medications that helps lower the risk of heart disease. It’s effective for those with PCOS.
- Antiandrogens: A class of medications that reduce excessive dark hair growth and acne in people with PCOS.
- Oral contraceptives: A class of medications that help regulate the menstrual cycle in individuals with PCOS. This class of drugs may also reduce excessive growth of hair and acne. These are used when an individual doesn’t desire fertility.
- Medroxyprogesterone acetate: This is a progesterone hormone medication that can be prescribed to help induce a period in people with PCOS who don’t get periods naturally. It can help regulate the menstrual cycle in people with PCOS.
If you’re considering medication to treat PCOS, you may consider speaking with your medical provider about your medical history and desired fertility. This may help you choose the best option for medication.
Fertility treatments are often used in the treatment of PCOS. The
- Clomiphene citrate: A pill that can be prescribed to help induce ovulation in those with infertility due to PCOS.
- Letrozole: An aromatase inhibitor that’s considered first-line for ovulation induction for PCOS.
- Gonadotropins: Injectable medications that stimulate follicular growth and induce ovulation.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A procedure that places sperm directly into the uterine cavity using a thin catheter. This is usually combined with medications to induce ovulation.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF): Medications are used to promote the growth of multiple follicles and eggs, which are then retrieved from the ovary and combined with sperm to make embryos. An embryo can then be transferred to the uterus for implantation.
It’s essential to speak with a medical professional about the risks and benefits of fertility treatments before starting.
Antidepressants may be a treatment option for those with PCOS to help alleviate some of the mental health symptoms of the syndrome.
But there’s a risk of weight gain with antidepressants, which can affect glucose and worsen PCOS symptoms. Antidepressants can also have side effects, including weight gain, which can worsen some of the negative effects of PCOS.
It’s important to speak with a mental health specialist to discuss options and risks before you start any antidepressant medication.
Psychotherapy can help treat depression in individuals with PCOS. Research indicates that therapy such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be helpful for individuals with PCOS.
To start finding a therapist, consider using this resource for support.
If you have PCOS and are also experiencing depression, consider speaking with a mental health professional.
Here are some signs you may need to seek help:
- a disruption in your sleeping or eating patterns (i.e., sleeping too much or not at all; overeating or not at all)
- trouble in your relationships
- feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness
- thoughts of harming yourself or others
PCOS is a complex disorder, and the physical manifestation of symptoms can be hard to deal with. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Help is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
For help locating a mental health professional near you, use the FindCare tool to narrow your search.
If you live with PCOS, you may be prone to depression. The symptoms of PCOS can affect your physical and mental health. Your body image and self-esteem may be lower due to the effects of PCOS, such as weight gain, acne, and excessive hair growth.
In addition, you may physically be in pain and have difficulty implementing and maintaining necessary lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms.
PCOS and depression are something to take seriously. If you notice low self-esteem, lack of motivation, or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, this is a sign to seek professional help.
If you want to learn more about a support network for PCOS, consider visiting The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association. They’re a support and advocacy group for people with PCOS.