A 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.