Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common hormonal condition affecting women, can be identified by a variety of physical symptoms – weight gain, missed or irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, sleep problems, infertility and fatigue among others. Women with PCOS produce higher than normal amount of male hormones, leading to a hormonal imbalance. While most women are diagnosed during their twenties or thirties, the disease may affect girls as young as 11 years old. According to estimates, PCOS affects 8-20 percent of reproductive-age women worldwide. In the United States, 5 million women are expected to be living with the illness.
Women afflicted by this gynecologic condition may also be at an increased risk of mental health problems. According to a large-scale British study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in April 2018, patients of PCOS were more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar and eating disorders. Additionally, children born to mothers with PCOS were at a greater risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Mental health screening required for women suffering from PCOS
For the study, Dr. Aled Rees and his colleagues from the Cardiff University, U.K., extracted data from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a database of 11 million people from 674 primary care practices in the U.K. They further identified 16,986 women who were diagnosed with PCOS between 2000 and 2014. When compared with unaffected women of the same BMI, age and primary care practice, women with PCOS were found to have been diagnosed with higher rates of depression (23.1 percent), anxiety (11.5 percent), bipolar disorder (3.2 percent) and eating disorders (1.6 percent). Additionally, the researchers also found that compared to children born to the healthy controls, offspring borne to women with PCOS had around 50 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with ADHD or ASD.
According to Rees, the effect of PCOS on a woman’s mental health still remains underappreciated. He also acknowledged the present study to be one of the largest to have examined the adverse mental health and neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with the disease. However, he cautioned that further research is needed in this direction. He also suggested that PCOS-affected women should be screened for mental health issues and given timely treatment to improve their overall well-being.
Hope of a bright future
Compared to men, women are twice as likely to experience depression with the disease occurring more frequently in females aged 25 to 44. It is more than a feeling of sadness, anger or hopelessness that can make it hard for women to live and enjoy life and at times, make even getting out of the bed a difficult task. But depression can be treated by a variety of treatment modalities, including behavioral therapies, experiential therapies, counseling and antidepressants.
Sovereign Health is committed to providing the highest level of care for mental health, addiction and co-occurring disorders. Depression treatment for women at our state-of-the-art treatment centers is administered after a comprehensive, diagnostic assessment and empowers patients with self-calming techniques. To locate our depression treatment centers for women, call our representatives at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with a member from our admissions team.
Get the latest news on program developments, behavioral health news and company announcements