PCOS and Mental Health Part 2
As seen in the previous blog, PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition which has an impact on physical as well as mental health. Hence, Dealing with PCOS involves efforts towards physiological as well as mental well-being.
The most important step in dealing with PCOS is timely diagnosis. When to see your doctor?
If you see at least two of the following signs, you need to consult your doctor.
If you are experiencing either irregular periods or absent i.e. No period at all or less than 4 periods in a year.
If you see evidence of excessive androgen which may be seen in unusual increase in body hair or thinning of hair on the scalp.
If you experience unusual weight gain in spite of no significant changes in your diet patterns.
It is difficult to understand and manage psychological consequences of PCOS without timely diagnosis. It brings clarity about the real reasons behind mood swings, irritability, anxiety and depression. It helps us and our family members to be aware of what to expect in this condition.
10 things to manage the psychological consequences of PCOS
After receiving a diagnosis, the next step is managing the psychological consequences of the PCOS. Here is what you can do!
1) Equip yourself with maximum relevant information
Having a maximum and yet relevant information will help you in becoming mentally prepared for facing PCOS. Knowing about “why?” behind your mood swings reduces a sense of loss of control and uncertainty.
2) Talk about it to your partner
This is the most important part of dealing with PCOS. In India we don’t talk about menstruation. PCOS will never come to your partner’s notice if you are not discussing openly with him. Start your communication with him as soon as possible. Make him your companion in the journey of gathering information and managing the symptoms through medications, therapy and participative routine. While doing so please understand that each person has limited resources. Hence it is possible that he may not be able to fulfill ALL your needs. He may not ALWAYS have sufficient energy to deal with your emotional roller coaster and may need some time to replenish his resources. This understanding will help in building compassion for each other and will not allow PCOS to dominate your relationship. It is important to be partners and support systems to each other rather than continuously playing “patient-caregiver” role play.
3) Be aware of the link between body and mind
It has been found that changes in bodily systems such as pain or hormonal changes lead to changes in our thoughts and mood. Further our mind has a potential to influence our body. Certain emotional states such as stress, anxiety or constant negative thoughts show their presence through physical symptoms. PCOS has hormonal changes as one of its important features and hence understanding this link between body and mind is important.
4) Monitor your emotional responses
This will help you in understanding, when do you experience negative emotions such as sadness, anger, stress or hopelessness during the month. Further it will also help you to identify triggers for your negative emotional reactions such as excessive crying, aggression or lack of interest. You can either maintain a diary for this purpose or you can record your mood in the apps such as “flo”.
5) Make physical exercise and meditation a part of your daily routine.
Both these techniques have proven their effectiveness in managing signs of anxiety and depression. They also help us in maintaining physical fitness along with enhancing various bodily functions. You can have your own customized techniques for meditation by exploring options such as mindfulness, mandala drawings, evening or morning walks, yoga and zen music.
6) Keep an eye on your diet
This is important because inappropriate eating patterns along with the existing condition of PCOS have a great potential to influence weight gain. Further research shows that body image issues and eating disorders can occur alongside the PCOS. Please remember that our mood changes may attract over-eating. Maintaining your diet will contribute not just to your physical health but also your emotional well being
7) Use positive affirmations
This will help you in breaking the vicious cycles of negative thoughts which play a part in the experience of hopelessness, anxiety or frustration
8) Self care is important
Self care involves spending some time of your day just to look after your own self. Have a slot planned in your routine during which you are relaxing and pursuing your hobbies. This slot is important for not discounting your own emotional needs
9) Seek help
PCOSis a chronic condition. It means you have to deal with it for a lifetime. Hence it may be possible at some point that you are not able to manage your challenging emotional experiences on your own. Seeking help from a therapist would help you in using some of the above techniques in a more meaningful way. Further, a therapist can also help you in understanding your thought cycle and emotional responses in a way which is very unique and personal to you. Knowing yourself better will empower you to manage your thoughts and emotions.
10) Help others.
As mentioned earlier, timely diagnosis of PCOS is extremely important. However most of the women having PCOS suffer because they are not aware of it. Hence talking about PCOS to the people around you and helping women with information would not only contribute in spreading an awareness about the condition but also would facilitate an acceptance of self which in turn would result in self compassion.
To sum up, PCOS stays with the women for a long time. Hence, learning more and more about this condition would be helpful to improve mental and physical wellbeing.
by Surabhi Pawar
She is a psychotherapist and a child psychologist. She works majorly with children having ADHD, Learning Disabilities, low self - esteem, social anxiety. Her sessions are a blend of behavioural and humanistic approaches. She also makes use of techniques from Art therapy and Play therapy for children. She strongly believes in the effectiveness of mindfulness in daily life. She aims to take Psychology to the grass root level population and remove the stigma attached to therapy and counselling. Apart from working in the field of mental health, she enjoys origami, photography and creative writing.