PCOS and Depression

pcos and depressionA number of people have asked me how things have been going over the past couple of weeks both by email and on Twitter. I’ve been keeping fairly quiet, mainly because I’ve been feeling quite fed-up, and hate to share negativity with others. Then I read Jennifer’s comment on the Welcome to PCOS Matters post about hormone imbalances, PCOS and depression. I realised it was wrong of me to disguise areas of my life with PCOS just because I was grumpy!

Over the past few weeks I have been feeling a mixture of unhappiness, grumpiness and anger. I can explain it in my head: it’s prolonged PMT (I am WELL overdue for my period); I feel heavy and haven’t lost any more weight (again due to my delayed period); I have a number of other stresses in my life at the moment (work and money); I fell and badly sprained my ankle last week so have had some pain and mobility problems; and my hormones are generally having a crazy ole party!

It doesn’t matter what your head tells you about WHY you feel the way you do. Unfortunately, no amount of logical reasoning can change the way you actually FEEL.

PCOS and Depression

In Jennifer’s comment she wrote about her daughter trying to commit suicide due to depression caused by undiagnosed PCOS. Now, I don’t even begin to suggest that what I have been going through is depression. I’ve experienced real depression in the past and it’s an overwhelming dark pit of despair that I never want to have to re-visit. But it’s important to understand where all these feelings are coming from and recognise the signs, so you can get the help you need.

PCOS and depression are strongly linked. In fact, depression is a common symptom of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome for a number of reasons…

  • slightly elevated testosterone levels, which we see in PCOS, have been proved to be connected with extreme cases of depression
  • depression is also linked to Insulin Resistance and under-active thyroid conditions – both common among PCOS sufferers
  • problems associated with PCOS such as fertility issues, excess hair, weight and acne can also play a huge role in how you feel

What Can You Do To Avoid PCOS Depression?

There are a number of natural methods you can use to help elevate your mood and try to maintain an “even keel.”

  • Diet plays a huge role in all aspects of PCOS. While you may think chocolate and pizza will make you feel better, deep down you know that isn’t true. You should aim to eat plenty of fresh vegetables – especially green leafy vegetables – and nuts and seeds.
  • You may have a vitmain B deficiency (especially vitamin B6 and Folic Acid) so eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin B. These include green leafy vegetables, avocado, Brazil nuts, oats and barley
  • Avoid processed sugars, caffeine and alcohol, all of which will worsen your mood
  • Take plenty of exercise. You may not like exercise but it’s a natural mood lifter
  • Take a good Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement, which aids normal brain function
  • Increase your natural magnesium intake from foods such as legumes, whole grains, nuts and leafy green vegetables. Magnesium is required to maintain your serotonin levels (a hormone vital for mood regulation)
  • Consider taking a St John’s Wort supplement, a natural remedy that has been proven to aid mild to moderate depression. BUT, please consult your doctor before taking as St John’s Wort can affect the efficacy of other drugs. It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you feel you are spiralling into the kind of depression that seems inescapable, please seek help immediately.  If your doctor is dismissive, then seek a second opinion or a referral. Do not let it drag on. Too often we listen to what our heads tell us about WHY we are feeling depressed and low. But knowing the WHY does not solve the problem. Telling yourself to “buck up – it’s just the PCOS” is not a solution. Listen to what your body and your emotions are telling you and respond accordingly.


The offending ankle!

8 Responses to PCOS and Depression
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PCOS Matters. PCOS Matters said: Blog post: : PCOS and Depression http://bit.ly/iTSrX […]

  2. Monika Woolsey
    September 25, 2009 | 5:23 pm

    I’m really glad you spoke up. Mood issues occur in at least 80% of women with PCOS, yet they are largely either ignored or dismissed. In fact, a PCOS researcher once told me he was excited to be publishing an article “proving” that depression did not exist in PCOS!

    Depression is part of what leaves you feeling tired. It can trigger binge eating. It affects memory, something most Cysters I meet are not aware of. If it’s not understood for the medical condition that it is…you can spend your entire life chasing solutions that don’t work in the long run. Losing weight, conceiving, removing facial hair…will all definitely be things to feel good about, but achieving those things is not a guarantee that the depression will subside.

    Being ok to talk about it is the first step toward finding relief from it!


  3. Jennifer
    September 26, 2009 | 8:44 pm

    Oh Lisa, I’m sorry I put this reply in the wrong spot but I wanted to add it here… I forgot to add that I hope your ankle heals really soon hun !!

    I’m sorry you are feeling down and I agree with all your recommendations to help with moods except for St.Johns Wort… If you are taking a bcp , it affects the effectiveness of it…

    My daughter was misdiagnosed bipolar due to the mood swings from the imbalance and fluctuation of hormones and the psychiatrist (who did no hormone testing by the way )put her on mood stabilizers and anti depressant meds….these made her sleep 24/7 …
    I did my own reasearch at this time and that’s when I found pcos … she had 90% of the symptoms … I took her into the our regular doctor and all but insisted she be tested for it …. sure enough after many blood tests and ultrasound she was diagnosed finally …
    well during my research I had read a lot about estradiol and the effects it has on mood amongst so many other things … I then requested to get the Yasmin bcp to regulate and stabilize her hormones … the doctor agreed with me that she was not bipolar and we got her off those meds and with only the bcp her moods improved remarkably… she laughs all the time now … estradiol is sort of it’s own antidepressant after all the research I’ve done I can’t stress enough the importance of having an optimal estradiol level along with the correct ratio of your other hormones such as testosterone

    I would like to invite anyone reading this to come and share your story with us at Living with PCOS on cafemom.com even if you are ttc #1 you can still join…
    Many Hugs for you all !!!

  4. Lisa
    September 29, 2009 | 9:21 pm

    Thanks to you both for your comments and kind wishes. It’s definitely an aspect of PCOS I wish was more widely known.

    I have been taking St John’s Wort, but I’m not on the bcp anymore. I know when I was and tried taking it everything went a bit haywire and I discovered that was the culprit – so definitely a no-no if you are on other medication.

  5. Ellen
    December 20, 2009 | 6:38 pm

    Hi All, hope you are well. I was wondering if someone could help me! When I was 15 I got told I hace pcos, However I never really got told much about it and as I was so young I ignored it and hoped it would go away now am 21 and realised I have to take thi seriuous as I have gained a few stone and in a lot if pain.

    I understand you can control this but I don’t know how and lookin on the internet there is so many advise website is confusin and I would like help from people who know how I feel.

    Thank you x

  6. Susan
    April 24, 2010 | 5:55 am

    I think that there is a lot to be said for raw foods. It worth looking into some raw food cook books to get some nice recipes.
    .-= Susan ´s last blog ..Building Self Esteem and Confidence For Women. Learn The Keys To Developing High Self Esteem. =-.

  7. Zsofia
    May 23, 2010 | 10:22 am


    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have PCOS but never really linked the condition to my mood swings and I was unnecessarily making life difficult for my husband with my negativity. Knowing the cause is the first step in dealing with it. Thanks once again.

  8. Wendy
    June 30, 2011 | 5:08 pm

    I really think GPs need more education when it comes to PCOS, full stop. Male GPs in particular need to realise that it’s not just a pathetic excuse that silly, weak-minded women dream up to allow them to carry on being fat, spotty and hairy forever, which is how many of them seem to view the condition.
    I went to mine a few months ago complaining of disturbed sleep and extreme tiredness, which he immediately diagnosed as depression and handed me a prescription for Citalopram. And then, as an extra insight, added “Of course if you lost some of that weight you’re carrying around you’d probably feel better about yourself.” I explained to him that I had been trying for ages but getting nowhere, since I had PCOS and that made it harder for me to lose weight. His response? “Well, if you weren’t so overweight you wouldn’t have it – PCOS is caused by being overweight you know.”
    If I wasn’t depressed BEFORE I went to see him, I certainly was after! And sadly he’s not an isolated example in my experience; there are many, many medical professionals (mostly men) who share his views. They don’t offer any advice or support – they just look at you with contempt, as if they can picture you sitting on a sofa all day surrounded by chips and cream cakes wailing “I don’t know why I’m so fat…!”

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