Emotional Wellness and PCOS
The most common signs of PCOS are symptoms you can see, which include: extra hair on the face and other areas where you don’t necessarily want hair (called “hirsutism”), pimples or acne, irregular periods, extra weight, and patches of dark skin on the back of the neck and other areas, called “acanthosis nigricans.” Since these symptoms are visible, it’s not surprising to me that they overshadow the emotional symptoms that don’t typically have a visual presence. Yet research shows that women who are diagnosed with PCOS are at an increased risk for emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression which ironically is often the result of having to deal with the physical symptoms.
I personally think that health care providers in general, need to do a better job at screening teens and adult women diagnosed with PCOS for anxiety and depression and make this a priority when developing a treatment plan. The treatment plan should be individualized and the teen or adult should be an active participant.
Having a diagnosis without an easy cure and dealing with symptoms that are hard to control can honestly wear you down, I know. But I have also discovered that I am my best advocate. I’ve learned to speak up for myself and ask questions and as a result, I am very much involved in my PCOS treatment plan. It took time but now I don’t feel embarrassed to tell my providers about my feelings about having PCOS. This has served me well and it actually has taught my providers to tune into my emotional health and not just my physical symptoms.
I hope my experience will encourage you to remember to care for your emotional health and reach out to your medical team and trustworthy resources for support. The Center for Young Women’s Health hosts a monthly online chat that is free and moderated by a nurse and dietitian. Learn more about PCOS here: