You have probably heard about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) more often now than ever, and perhaps it is because individuals are feeling empowered to use their voice and share their story. Let us take a moment to understand what some of their daily struggles might be and how to support them in their journey.
PCOS is an endocrine condition that causes hormone imbalances and impacts ovaries’ functionality. Those with PCOS have higher-than-normal levels of androgens (male hormones) which includes symptoms of infertility, irregular periods, cysts in the ovaries, obesity, excessive body and facial hair, and acne. Believe it or not but PCOS is related to mental health! It is a complex condition that impacts many aspects of one’s health. Research suggests that PCOS is more likely to be associated with anxiety and depression, and even an increased risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. The link between PCOS and mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression are unclear, but it is likely due to hormonal differences. PCOS causes symptoms like infertility and hirsutism, leading one to possibly feel frustrated and anxious about the lack of control over one’s health and body.
- Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. It is paying attention to current thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions without judgment. It does not involve thinking about the laundry load that has to get done or heading to the grocery store to start this week’s meal prep, rather it is about what one is experiencing right now. Even just practicing mindfulness for 30 minutes a day suggests improvement in depression and anxiety among those with PCOS.
- Yoga that includes poses, guided relaxation, breathing exercises, and meditation improves symptoms of anxiety. So, instead of waking up and immediately attending to the phone or scrolling through social media, try switching the morning routine to meditation, breathing exercises, or even praying. Also, think about attending a support group as others alike share their own unique experiences and similar hardships in managing PCOS.
I hope gaining a bit of information about PCOS empowers you to stay present and create a safe space for someone, whether it be your mother, friend, sister, or aunt continuing their journey with PCOS.
Kirthana Erskine is a Registered Therapist (Qualifying) with College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. One of Kirthana’s areas of interest includes women’s health. Kirthana uses evidence-based modalities and an integrative approach in order to help her clients receive treatment that is personalized to their unique needs.