PCOS: Anxiety & Depression

Let’s talk about something really important for women with PCOS: anxiety and depression.

It should come as no surprise that PCOS symptoms can have major emotional consequences. These conditions are rampant in our community, and for good reason. PCOS is a stressful condition to have, and with its side effects of hirsutism, acne, weight gain, infertility, and irregular cycles, it is certainly no surprise that women with PCOS often struggle psychologically as well. Anxiety and depression are associated with changes in cortisol.

Even low-grade inflammation, the type of inflammation common in PCOS, has been linked to mood disorders like depression. It is known that approximately 60% of women with PCOS have at least one mental health problem. This increased risk in mental health concerns is said to be directly related to the increased exposure to TESTOSTERONE! Overall, it’s quite clear why there is a prevalence of depression and anxiety in women with PCOS.

Here are 4 ways to naturally conquer your anxiety:

1) Nourish

Your diet is extremely important, especially when you are experiencing moments of anxiety. Consuming a whole foods diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, lean protein and complex carbs is key! Ditch the sugar – it can cause your nervous system to react and is not helpful in times of anxiety! Foods that nourish the body are essential, especially foods that contain B vitamins such as chicken, legumes and leafy greens.

2) Meditation

Mindfulness can be key to relieving anxiety. It can allow us to train our brains to not constantly hold on to thoughts that keep on re-appearing. Often times individuals will report that meditation makes them more anxious or they are not able to shut off their thoughts. I like to think of meditation similar to standing on the train platform watching the trains go by. Meditation is about noticing the thoughts and allowing them to drift away. Remember – it takes time and practice. You are trying to retrain your brain and this won’t happen overnight! A few apps that I like are Relax melodies and Headspace.

3) Moving: Yoga

Yoga can be really beneficial to calming down anxious thoughts. Our bodies tend to constrict when we get anxious, we hunch our backs, cross our legs, or clench our teeth. Yoga aims to extend and lengthen our muscles. It can help to lower tension in the body and promote relaxation. Yoga also helps to regulate our breathing in times of shallow or quick breathing, often seen in anxiety. It can also help us to interrupt the cycles of constant worry. So get on that mat, even if it is 10 minutes a day!

4) Supplementation

Fish oil: A recent study in September 2018 with 60 women with PCOS were given either 2x1000mg/day fish oil, omega-3 fatty acid or placebo for 12 weeks. What they found was those who took the fish oil had beneficial effects on mental health parameters, better insulin metabolism, improved hirsutism and reduced inflammatory marker – known as HS-CRP. Taking a fish oil can be quite impactful – especially for women with PCOS. Other supplements to mention here are magnesium, L-theanine, and the amino acid known as L-glycine.

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